The Sleep Wind

Softer than mists o’er the pale green of waters,
O’er the charmed sea, shod with sandals of shadow
Comes the warm sleep wind of Argolis, floating
                  Garlands of fragrance;

Comes the sweet wind by the still hours attended,
Touching tired lids on the shores dim with distance,
Ever its way toward the headland of Lesbos,
                  Toward Mitylene.

Faintly one fair star of evening enkindles
On the dusk afar its lone fire Œtean,
Shining serene till the darkness will deepen
                  Others to splendor;

Bringing ineffable peace, and the gladsome
Return with the night of all things that morning
Ruthlessly parted, the child to its mother,
                  Lover to lover.

From the marble court of rose-crowned companions,
All alone my feet again seek the little
Theatre pledged to the Muse, now deserted,
                  Facing the surges;

Where the carved Pan-heads that laugh down the gentle
Slope of broad steps to the refluent ripple,
Flute from their thin pipes the dithyrambs deathless,
                  Songs all unuttered.

Empty each seat where my girl friends acclaimed me,
Poets with names on the tiered stone engraven,
Over whose verge blooms the apple tree, drifting
                  Perfume and petals;

Gone Telesippa and tender Gyrinno,
Anactoria, woman divine; Atthis,
Subtlest of soul, fair Damophyla, Dica,
                  Maids of the Muses.

Here an hour past soul-enravished they listened
While my rapt heart breathed its pæan impassioned,
Chanted its wild prayer to thee, Aphrodite,
                  Daughter of Cyprus;

Now to their homes are they gone in the city,
Pensive to dream limb-relaxed while the languid
Slaves come and lift from the tresses they loosen,
                  Flowers that have faded.

Thou alone, Sappho, art sole with the silence,
Sole with night and dreams that are darkness, weaving
Thoughts that are sighs from the heart and their meaning
                  Vague as the shadow;

When the great silence shall come to thee, sad one,
Men that forget shall remember thy music,
Murmur thy name that shall steal on their passion
                  Soft as the sleep wind.

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