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The muses teach me all their softest lays,
And the wide world resounds with Sappho's praise
Though great Alcrus more sublimely sings,
And strikes with bolder rage the sounding strings,
No less renown attends the moving lyre,
Which Venus tunes, and all her loves inspire;
To me what nature has in charms denied,
Is well by wit's more lasting fames supplied.
Though short my stature, yet my name extends
To heaven itself, and earth's remolest ends.
Brown as I am, an Ethiopian dame
Inspired young Perseus with a generous flame;
Turtles and doves of different hues unite,
And glossy jet is pair’d with shining white.
If to no charms thou wilt thy heart resign,
But such as merit, such as equal thine,
By none, alas! by none thou canst be moved :
Phaon alone by Phaon must be loved !
Yet once thy Sappho could thy cares employ;
Once in her arms you centred all your joy:
No time the dear remembrance can remove,
For, oh ! how vast a memory has love!
My music, then you could for ever hear,
And all my words were music to your ear
You stopp'd with kisses my enchanting tongue,
And found my kisses sweeter than my song.
In all I pleased, but most in what was best ;
And the last joy was dearer than the rest.
Then with each word, each glance, each motion fired,
You still enjoy'd, and yet you still desired,
Till all dissolving in the trance we lay,
And in tumultuous raptures died away.
The fair Sicilians now thy soul inflame :
Why was I born, ye gods! a Lesbian dame ?
But ah, beware, Sicilian nymphs! nor boast
That wandering heart which I so lately lost;
Nor be with all those tempting words abused,
Those tempting words were all to Sappho used
And you that rule Sicilia's happy plains,
Have pity, Venus, on your poet's pains!
Shall fortune still in one sad tenor run,
And still increase the woes so soon begun ?
Inured to sorrow from my tender years,
My parent's ashes drank my early tears :
My brother next, neglecting wealth and fame,
Ignobly burn'd in a destructive flame;
An infant daughter late my griefs increased,
And all a mother's cares distract my breast.
Alas! what more could fate itself impuse,
But thee, the last and greatest of my woes ?
No more my robes in waving purple flow,
Nor on my hand the sparkling diamonds glow;
No inore my locks, in ringlets curl'd, diffuse
The costly sweetness of Arabian dews;
Nor braids of gold the varied tresses bind,
That Aly disorder'd with the wanton wind :
For whom should Sappho use such arts as these 1
He's gone, whom only she desired to please !
Cupid's light darts my tender bosom move,
Sull is there cause for Sappho still to love:
So from my birth the Sisters fix'd my doom,
And gave to Venus all my life to come;
Or, while my muse in melting notes complains,
My yielding heart keeps measure to my strains.
By charms like thine, which all my soul have won
Who might not-ah! who would not be undone ?
For those Aurora Cephalus might scorn,
And with fresh blushes paint the conscious morn:
For those might Cynthia lengthen Phaon's sleep,
And bid Endymion nightly tend his sheep:
Venus for those had rapt thee to the skies,
But Mars on thee might look with Venus' eyes.
O scarce a youth, yet scarce a tender boy!
O usesul lime for lovers to employ!
Pride of thy age and glory of thy race,
Come to these arms, and melt in this embrace !
The vows you never will return, receive ;
And take at least the love you will not give.
See, while I write, my words are lost in tears!
The less my sense, the more my love appears.
Sure 'twas not inuch to bid one kind adieu ;
(At least to seiyn was never hard to you !)
Farewell, my Lesbian love,' you might have said ;
Or coldly thus, ' farewell, oh Lesbian maid !!
No tear did you, no parting kiss receive,
Nor knew I then how much I was to grieve.
No lover's gift your Sappho could confer,
And wrongs and woes were all you left with her.
No charge I gave you, and no charge could give,
But this, ‘ Be mindful of our loves, and live.'
Now by the Nine, those powers adored by me,
And Love, the god that ever waits on thee,
When first I heard (from whom I hardly knew)
That you were fled, and all my joys with you,
Like some sad statue, speechless, pale I stood,
Griefchill'd my breast, and stopp'd my freezing ble od
No sigh to rise, no tear had power to flow,
Fix'd in a stupid lethargy of wo:
But when its way the impetuous passion found,
I rend my tresses, and my breast I wound;
I rave; then weep; I curse, and then complain ;
Now swell to rage, now melt in tears again.
Nol fiercer pangs distract the mournful dame,
Whose first-born infant feeds the funeral flame.
My scornful brother with a smile appears,
Insults my woes, and triumphs in my tears :
His hated image ever haunts my eyes;
* And why this grief? thy daughter lives,' he crics.
Stung with my love, and furious with despair,
All torn my garments, and my bosom bare,
My woes, thy crimes, I to the world proclaim:
Such inconsistent things are love and shame!
'Tis thou art all my care and my delight,
My daily longing, and my dream by night.
O niglit, more pleasing than the brightest day,
When fancy gives what absence takes away,
And dress'd in all its visionary charms,
Restores my fair deserter to my arms!
Then round your neck in wanton wreaths I twino;
Then you, methinks, as fondly circle mine :
A thousand tender words I hear and speak;
A thousand melting kisses give and lake:
Then fiercer joys: I blush to mention these,
Yet, while I blush, confess how much they pleaso.
But when, with day, the sweet delusions fly,
And all things wake to life and joy, but I;
As if once more forsaken, I complain,
And close my eyes to dream of you again;
Then frantic rise, and like some fury rove
Through lonely plains, and through the silent grove:
As if the silent grove, and lonely plains,
That knew my pleasures, could relieve my pains.
I view the grotto, once the scene of love,
The rocks around, the hanging roofs above,
That charm'd me more, with native moss o'ergrown
Than Phrygian marble, or the Parian stone.
I find the shades that veil'd our joys before !
those shades delight no more.
Here the press'd herbs with bending tops betray
Where oft entwined in amorous folds we lay;
I kiss that earth which once was press'd by you,
And all with tears the withering herbs bedew.
For thee the fading trees appear to mourn,
And birds defer their songs till thy return ·
Night shades the grove, and all in silence lie,
All but the mournful Philomel and I:
With mournful Philomel I join my strain,
Of Tereus she, of Phaon I complain.
A spring there is, whose silver waters show,
Clear as a glass, the shining sands below;
A flowery lotos spreads its arms above,
Shades all the banks, and seems itself a grove :
Eternal greens the mossy margin grace,
Watch'd by the sylvan genius of the place.
Here as I lay, and swell'd with tears the flood,
Before my sight a watery virgin stood:
She stood and cried, 'O) you that love in vain;
Fly hence, and seek the fair Leucadian main :
There stands a rock, from whose impending steep
Apollo's fane surveys the rolling deep;
There injured lovers, leaping from above,
Their flames extinguish, and forget to love.
Deucalion once with hopeless fury burn'd,
In vain he loved : relentless Pyrrha scorn'd:
But when from hence he plunged into the main,
Deucalion scorn'd, and Pyrrha loved in vain.
Haste, Sappho, haste, fronı high Leucadia throw
Thy wretched weight, nor dread the deeps below!
She spoke, and vanish'd with the voice-I rise,
And silent tears tall trickling from my eyes.
I go, ye nymphs! those rocks and seas to prove;
Ilow much I fear, but ah, how much I love!
I go, ye nymphs! where furious love inspires ;
Let female fears submit to female fires.
To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate,
And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate.
Ye gentle gales, beneath my body blow,
And softly lay me on the waves below!
And thou, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain,
Spread thy soft wings, and wast me o'er the main,
Nor let a lover's death the guiltless flood profane!
On Phæbus' shrine my harp i'll then bestow,
And this inscription shall be plac'd below;
* Here she who sung, to him who did inspire,
Sappho to Phebus consecrates her lyre;
What suits with Sappho, Phæbus, suits with thee,
The gift, the giver, and the god agree.'
Brit why, alas! relentless youth, ah why To distant scas must tender Sappho tly?