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LOVE PSALMS FOR INSPIRATION
15 Mar 2017

LOVE PSALMS FOR INSPIRATION

PIERIA’S ROSE

Pale death shall come, and thou and thine shall be,

Then and thereafter, to all memory

Forgotten as the wind that yesterday

Blew the last lingering apple buds away;

For thou hadst never that undying rose

To grace the brow and shed immortal glows;

Pieria’s fadeless flower that few may claim

To wreathe and save thy unremembered name.

Ay! even on the fields of Dis unknown,

Obscure among the shadows and alone,

Thy flitting shade shall pass uncomforted

Of any heed from all the flitting dead.

But no one maid, I think, beneath the skies,

At any time shall live and be as wise,

In sooth, as I am; for the Muses Nine

Have made me honored and their gifts are mine;

And men, I think, will never quite forget

My songs or me; so long as stars shall set

Or sun shall rise, or hearts feel love’s desire,

My voice shall cross their dreams, a sigh of fire.

PERSEPHONE

I saw a tender maiden plucking flowers

Once, long ago, in the bright morning hours;

And then from heaven I saw a sudden cloud

Fall swift and dark, and heard her cry aloud.

Again I looked, but from my open door

My anxious eyes espied the maid no more;

The cloud had vanished, bearing her away

To underlands beyond the smiling day.

MAIDENHOOD

Do I long for maidenhood?

  Do I long for days

When upon the mountain slope

  I would stand and gaze

Over the Ægean’s blue

  Melting into mist,

Ere with love my virgin lips

Cercolas had kissed?

Maidenhood, O maidenhood,

  Whither hast thou flown?

To a land beyond the sea

Thou hast never known.

Maidenhood, O maidenhood,

Wilt return to me?

Never will my bloom again

Give its grace to thee.

Now the autumn skies are low,

Youth and summer sped;

Shepherd hills are far away,

Cercolas is dead.

Mitylene’s marble courts

Echo with my name;—

Maidenhood, we never dreamed,

Long ago of fame.

THE BOAST OF ARES

Ares said he would drag

Hephestus by force

From Poseidon’s palace

Deep down in the sea;

Where he had fashioned

The cunning throne

With the secret chains.

He presented the throne,

Forsooth, as a gift

To the queen of heaven;

But Hera soon found

For revenge on her

Who had him cast

From the home of Gods.

For secure in its clasp

Of adamant gold

She was held imprisoned,

The prey of his guile;

And Hephestus knew

By him alone

Could the queen be freed.

But the great God of war

Made boast of his strength;

He would bring the forger

Of metals and tricks

On high to release

Hera, and end

Her enraged despair.

Ares said he would drag

Hephestus by force,

But was made to waver

And flee when assailed

With a blazing brand

By the dark God

Of the underworld.

EROTIKA DITHYRAMBS HYMN TO PAPHIA

Immortal Paphia! have I earned thy hate,

That I should burn in passion’s fatal flame?

Is not my constant service thine to claim,

My prayer’s appeal with praise of thee elate?

Has not my life been one sole hymn of thee,

One quivering chord on Love’s harp overwrought?

My soul has trembled up to thee in thought,

Probed to its depth thy every ecstasy.

Are not my countless heart-beats each a vow,

Of tribute throbs a garland? For thy gain

The Fates have drenched my soul in passion’s rain,

Pieria’s roses twined about my brow.

The virgin harvest of my heart was thine,

I shuddered in the joy that half consumed;

The votive garlands on thy altar bloomed,

My days were songs to nights of bliss divine.

Why try me, then, with torture, gracious Queen?

Why verge me on this rapture’s dread abyss,

Hold breast from breast and stay the yearning kiss?

Ah, couldst thou fashion pain that stung less keen?

The throe of Tantalus is mine to bear,

Beauty that Thetis-like eludes my clasp;

Glances that lure, that make each breath a gasp,

And then disdainful gloat at my despair.

Scornful she dwells beyond my ardor’s clutch,

Bathed in an aureole of carnal fire;—

O bind her equal slave to fond desire,

Let passion’s tingling warmth her being touch!

Come to me, Goddess, come as once of old,

Hearing my voice implore thee from afar,

I drew to earth thy dazzling avatar;

Accord the smile of piercing bliss untold.

Ask me the dear suave question phrased of yore;

“Sappho, who grieveth now thy mad fond heart?

Wouldst win her beauty, she who frowns apart?

Wild as thou lovest, she soon shall love thee more.”

O fair Olympian, answer thus, I pray!

Release me from this torment, yield my arms

The transport thirsted of her folded charms,

In glow that welds her heart to mine for aye.

PASSION

Now Love shakes my soul, a mighty

Wind from the high mountain falling

Full on the oaks of the forest;

Now, limb-relaxing, it masters

My life and implacable thrills me,

Rending with anguish and rapture.

Now my heart, paining my bosom,

Pants with desire as a mænad

Mad for the orgiac revel.

Now under my skin run subtle

Arrows of flame, and my body

Quivers with surge of emotion.

Now long importunate yearnings

Vanquish with surfeit my reason;

Fainting my senses forsake me.

APHRODITE’S PRAISE

O Sappho, why art thou ever

Singing with praises the blessed

      Queen of the heaven?

Why does the heart in thy bosom

Ever revert in its yearning

      Throb to the Goddess?

Why are thy senses unsated

Ever in quest of elusive

Love that is deathless?

Ah, gracious Daughter of Cyprus,

Never can I as a mortal

Tire of thy service.

Thou art the breath of my body,

The blood in my veins, and the glowing

Pulse of my bosom.

Omnipotent, burning, resistless,

Thou art the passion that shaking

      Masters me ever.

Thou art the crisis of rapture

Relaxing my limbs, and the melting

      Ebb of emotion;

Bringing the tears to my lashes,

Sighs to my lips, in the swooning

      Excess of passion.

O golden-crowned Aphrodite,

Grant I shall ever be grateful,

      Sure of thy favor;

Worthy the lot of thy priestess,

Supreme in the song that forever

Rings with thy praises.

THE SACRIFICE

Upon a cushion soft

  My limbs I place,

My every garment doffed

  For deeper grace;

From burning doves embalmed

  In baccharis,

The scented fumes have calmed

  Me like a kiss.

Beyond the phallic shrine

  That tripods light,

I pledge with holy wine

  An image white;

Anadyomene,

  Than foam more fair,

When from the ravished sea

  She rose to air.

Daughter of God, accept

  These gifts of mine!

Last night my body slept

  In arms divine.

These sated lips and eyes

  That erstwhile sued,

Accord this sacrifice

  In gratitude.

DAMOPHYLA

Cold of heart and strangely

Uninclined to passion,

Wisdom’s vigil leaves thee,

Proud Damophyla.

Sapphics thou hast written,

Verses in my metre,

With a skill surpassing

In the melic art.

Love’s superb enchantment

Thou art fain to banish,

Like the virgin Huntress

Long by thee adored.

Molded by thy tunic,

Every arching contour

Of her chaste and noble

Form I dream to see;

Even view her stepping

From the leafy covert

Down the dawn-white valley,

Stately as a stag.

Long I sued but found thee

Deaf to all entreaty,

Till one summer twilight

Listless in the heat;

Soothed by slumber’s languor,

And my low monodic

Voice that hymned a pæan

In the praise of love;

Loth to yield yet vanquished,

As I knelt beside thee,

All thy long resistance

To my kiss succumbed.

THE FAREWELL

Beloved, stand face to face,

  And, lifting lids, disclose to me the grace,

The Paphic fire that lingers yet and lies

  Reflected in thy eyes.

Phaon, my sole beloved,

  Stand not to my mad passion all unmoved;

O let, ere thou to far Panormus sail,

  One hour of love prevail.

Dear ingrate, come and let

  Thy breath like odor from a cassolet,

Thy smile, the clinging touch of lips and heart

  Anoint me, ere we part.

Phaon, I yearn and seek

  But thee alone; and what I feel must speak

In all these fond and wilful ways of mine,

  O mortal, made divine!

My girl friends now no more

  Hang their sweet gifts of garlands at my door;

Dear maids, with all your vanished empery

  Ye now are naught to me.

Phaon, thy galley rides

  Within the harbor’s mouth and waits the tides

And favoring winds, far to the west to fly

  And leave me here to die.

The brawny rowers lean

  To bend long-stroking oars; and changing scene

And fairer loves than mine shall soon efface

  This last divine embrace.

Phaon, the lifting breeze!

  See, at thy feet I kneel and clasp thy knees!

Go not, go not! O hear my sobbing prayer,

  And yield to my despair!

DARK-EYED SLEEP

Dark-eyed Sleep, child of Night,

  Come in thy shadow garment to my couch,

And with thy soothing touch,

Cool as the vesper breeze,

  Grant that I may forget;

Bestow condign release,

  A taste of rest that comes with endless sleep;

Lure off the haunting dreams,

The dire Eumenides

  That torture my repose.

For I would live a space

  Though Phaon has forsaken me, nor yet

Be found on shadow fields

Among the lilies tall

  Of pale Persephone.

 


Asherah

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