My shell is mute; Apollo doth refuse


        Αὔτα δὲ σὺ Καλλιόπα·

    Α. Παρθενία, παρθενία, ποῖ με λίποισ’ οἴχῃ;
    Β. Οὐκέτι ἥξω πρὸς σέ, οὐκέτι ἥξω·

    MY shell is mute ; Apollo doth refuse 
    My prayers ; I turn to thee, O mother muse, 
    Who fled'st the buoyant brood 
    Of crested Helicon,
    In secret by a mortal to be wooed, 
    Yet still, august, keepest thy golden snood : 
    My maidenhood, my maidenhood is gone. 

    Clio, ah ! thou thyself did'st find it sweet 
    To feel thy lover's heart against thee beat, 
                 To let OEagrus teach 
                 Love's tender, human ways, 
    No more with thy two arms to strive to reach 
    The sky, to hear a trembling man beseech, 
    And give him favour, prompting, and dispraise. 

    'Twas sweet to clasp thy child, nor did'st thou shrink 
    To bear him to thy virgin haunts to drink 
    Of Aganippe's spring. 
    Alas, what ailed thee then ? 
    While delicate girl-muses in a ring 
    Sang softly to thy babe thou could'st not sing— 
    Thy maidenhood would never come again. 

    Mute thou did'st hide him 'mid the devious bowers, 
    Till he stopped playing with the purple flowers 
    One April, and began 
    To hum a happy prate 
    That through the little, bosky hollows ran, 
    And brought the shepherd and the husbandman, 
    The doe and stag, the lioness and her mate. 

    But when a Maenad, breathing quick beneath 
    Her nebris, watched the child with sharpened teeth, 
    Did'st feel the poet's fate 
    Down Hebrus to be hurled ? 
    Mother, did'st thou forbode how for her great, 
    Her lyrical enchanters lies in wait 
    The execrating, fascinated world ? 

    Regret not, glorious lady of the style, 
    That thou did'st learn how nations travail, while 
    Thy heart throbbed with a king's, 
    And from Antissa's tomb 
    The fate and falling of all lovely things ; 
    Thy scroll unwraps the ages ; Moira brings 
    To thee the tattered tissue of her loom. 

    Yet sometimes, sitting by the sacred well, 
    Thou call'st to mind the heart-delighting spell 
    Apollo cast on thee 
    In thy strong, virgin days, 
    When thou wert close to sunshine and to tree ; 
    What ails thee in thyself, Calliope ? 
    With thee no more the hamadryad plays : 

    The blowing Hours of thy still form afraid 
    Bring thee no more the branch, the vine, the blade ; 
    They love the hands that smite 
    The full-stringed barbiton 
    That we may never touch again aright : 
    No living creature may we more delight ; 
    Our maidenhood, our maidenhood is gone.