The stars about the moon


    Ἄστερες μὲν ἀμφι κάλαν σελάνναν
    ἂψ ἀποκρύπτοισι φάεννον εἶδος,
    ὄπποτα πλήθοισα μάλιστα λάμπῃ

    THE stars about the moon 
    Hide their bright face as soon 
    As she from circle fair 
    Lights up all earth and air 
    With silver, so that field, 
    Grove, terrace lie revealed 
    In the cold splendour, bare 
    Of darkness as at noon. 

    The Pleiades that shone 
    Before she rose are gone ; 
    Sweet Hesperus, the pride 
    Of nuptial eventide, 
    Is now obscure and pale ; 
    And straightway pine and fail 
    The planets at her side 
    That she has looked upon. 

    Erinna, loved of yore, 
    Loved ever more and more, 
    O queen of women, bright 
    As the pure orb of night, 
    When thou art with my maids 
    Their lesser beauty fades 
    In thy triumphant light; 
    They are not as before. 

    What makes thee gracious, dread 
    As Dian's maidenhead; 
    Why with thy nineteen years 
    Hast thou on earth no peers ; 
    Wherefore do lovers guess 
    That thou can'st heal and bless ; 
    And why do Sappho's tears 
    Fall thick upon thy head ? 

    Ah, child, I know the spell: 
    It is that, when my shell 
    Grows vocal to me, thou 
    Alone hast knowledge how 
    My heart within me fares ; 
    No other being shares 
    The secret hope, the vow 
    That in my bosom dwell. 

    Thou can'st, though young, reveal 
    To mortals what they feel, 
    If Cyprus' daughter deign 
    In dream to ease their pain ; 
    A poet, thou dost share 
    Gently each inner care, 
    And timid hearts in vain 
    From thee their wounds conceal. 

    This makes thy presence seem 
    As the full moon's supreme ; 
    Men recognize the sign, 
    And hail thee as divine, 
    As one who will live on, 
    When all the stars are gone, 
    That for a moment shine, 
    Then perish in thy beam.