Adown the Lesbian vales


…Τάδε νῦν ἐταίραις
ταῖς ἔμαισι τέρπνα κάλως ἀείσω·

 ADOWN the Lesbian vales, 
   When spring first flashes out, 
   I watch the lovely rout 
Of maidens flitting 'mid the honey-bees 
   For thyme and heath, 
   Cistus, and trails 
   Of myrtle-wreath : 
   They bring me these 
My passionate, unsated sense to please. 

   In turn, to please my maids, 
   Most deftly will I sing 
   Of their soft cherishing 
In apple-orchards with cool waters by, 
   Where slumber streams 
   From quivering shades, 
   And Cypris seems 
   To bend and sigh, 
Her golden calyx offering amorously.

   What praises would be best 
   Wherewith to crown my girls ? 
   The rose when she unfurls 
Her balmy, lighted buds is not so good, 
   So fresh as they 
   When on my breast 
   They lean, and say 
   All that they would, 
Opening their glorious, candid maidenhood. 

   To that pure band alone 
   I sing of marriage-loves ; 
   As Aphrodite's doves 
Glance in the sun their colour comes and goes : 
   No girls let fall 
   Their maiden zone 
   At Hymen's call 
   Serene as those 
Taught by a poet why sweet Hesper glows.