From " Helen of Troy and Other Poems."
The twilight's inner flame grows blue and deep, And in my Lesbos, over leagues of sea, The temples glimmer moon-wise in the trees. Twilight has veiled the little flower-face Here on my heart, but still the night is kind And leaves her warm sweet weight against my breast. Am I that Sappho who would run at dusk Along the surges creeping up the shore When tides came in to ease the hungry beach, And running, running till the night was black, Would fall forespent upon the chilly sand And quiver with the winds from off the sea? Ah quietly the shingle waits the tides Whose waves are stinging kisses, but to me Love brought no peace, nor darkness any rest. I crept and touched the foam with fevered hands And cried to Love, from whom the sea is sweet, From whom the sea is bitterer than death. Ah, Aphrodite, if I sing no more To thee, God's daughter, powerful as God, It is that thou hast made my life too sweet To hold the added sweetness of a song. There is a quiet at the heart of love, And I have pierced the pain and come to peace I hold my peace, my Cleïs, on my heart; And softer than a little wild bird's wing Are kisses that she pours upon my mouth. Ah never any more when spring like fire Will flicker in the newly opened leaves, Shall I steal forth to seek for solitude Beyond the lure of light Alcaeus' lyre, Beyond the sob that stilled Erinna's voice. Ah, never with a throat that aches with song, Beneath the white uncaring sky of spring, Shall I go forth to hide awhile from Love The quiver and the crying of my heart. Still I remember how I strove to flee The love-note of the birds, and bowed my head To hurry faster, but upon the ground I saw two wingèd shadows side by side, And all the world's spring passion stifled me. Ah, Love there is no fleeing from thy might, No lonely place where thou hast never trod, No desert thou hast left uncarpeted With flowers that spring beneath thy perfect feet. In many guises didst thou come to me; I saw thee by the maidens while they danced, Phaon allured me with a look of thine, In Anactoria I knew thy grace, I looked at Cercolas and saw thine eyes; But never wholly, soul and body mine, Didst thou bid any love me as I loved. Now have I found the peace that fled from me; Close, close against my heart I hold my world. Ah, Love that made my life a Iyric cry, Ah, Love that tuned my lips to Iyres of thine, I taught the world thy music, now alone I sing for one who falls asleep to hear.