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.