"Sing to us, Sappho!" cried the crowd


Οὔ τι μοι ὔμμες·

" Sing to us, Sappho !" cried the crowd, 
And to my lyre I sprang ; 
Apollo seized me, and aloud 
Tumultuous I sang. 
I did not think of who would hear ; 
I knew not there were men who jeer ; 
Nor dreamed I there were mortals born 
To make the poet's heart forlorn. 

There is a gift the crowd can bring, 
A rapture, a content ; 
Pierian roses scarcely fling 
So ravishing a scent 
As that with which the air is stirred 
When hearts of heavenly things have heard— 
Sigh, and let forth the odour steal 
Of that which in themselves they feel.

But now no subtle incense rose ; 
I heard a hostile sound 
And looked—oh, scornfuller than those 
'Mong men I ne'er have found. 
I paused : the whistling air was stilled ; 
Then through my chords the godhead thrilled, 
And the quelled creatures knew their kind 
Ephemeral through foolish mind. 

They saw their ghosts in Hades' grove 
A dismal, flitting band ; 
They felt they were shut out from love 
And honour in their land ; 
For never in the Muses' strain 
Of them memorial would remain ; 
And spell-bound they received the curse 
Of the great King's derided verse.