Idyll XV


Queen, who lov’st Golgi and the Sicel hill and Ida;

Aphroditè radiant-eyed;

the stealthy-footed Hours from Acheron’s rill brought once again Adonis to thy side

How changed in twelve short months!

They travel slow, those precious Hours:

we hail their advent still, for blessings do they bring to all below.

O Sea-born! thou didst erst, or legend lies,

shed on a woman’s soul thy grace benign,

and Berenicè’s dust immortalize.

O called by many names, at many a shrine!

For thy sweet sake doth Berenicè’s child (Herself a second Helen)

deck with all that’s fair, Adonis.

On his right are piled ripe apples fallen from the oak-tree tall;

and silver caskets at his left support Toy-gardens,

Syrian scents enshrined in gold and alabaster,

cakes of every sort that in their ovens the pastrywomen mould,

when with white meal they mix all flowers that bloom,

oil-cakes and honey-cakes.

There stand portrayed each bird, each butterfly;

and in the gloom of foliage climbing high,

and downward weighed by graceful blossoms,

do the young Loves play like nightingales,

and perch on every tree,

and flit,

to try their wings,

from spray to spray.

Then see the gold, the ebony!

Only see the ivory-carven eagles,

bearing up to Zeus the boy who fills his royal cup!

Soft as a dream,

such tapestry gleams o’erhead as the Milesian’s self would gaze on, charmed.

But sweet Adonis hath his own sweet bed:

next Aphroditè sleeps the roseate-armed,

a bridegroom of eighteen or nineteen years.

Kiss the smooth boyish lip — there’s no sting there!

The bride hath found her own: all bliss be hers!

And him at dewy dawn we’ll troop to bear Down where the breakers hiss against the shore:

there, with dishevelled dress and unbound hair,

bare-bosomed all,

our descant wild we’ll pour:

Thou haunt’st, Adonis, earth and heaven in turn, alone of heroes.

Agamemnon ne’er could compass this, nor Aias stout and stern:

not Hector, eldest-born of her who bare ten sons,

not Patrocles,

nor safe-returned from Ilion Pyrrhus,

such distinction earned:

nor, elder yet, the Lapithæ, the sons of Pelops and Deucalion;

or the crown of Greece, Pelasgians.

Gracious may’st thou be, Adonis, now:

pour new-year’s blessings down!

Right welcome dost thou come, Adonis dear:

Come when thou wilt, thou’lt find a welcome here.


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