Night fell: Selene proud and pale


Ἀϊπάρθενος ἔσσομαι·

NIGHT fell: Selene proud and pale 
Rose and put on her arched veil, 
And lifting to her brow the crescent small, 
The firm, young curve she deigns to wear, 
Went forth into the silent air, 
And noiseless brought her white team from the stall. 

Cold was her figure, and her breast 
Secure and hard ; her eyes confessed 
No yearning ; she was whole from love, and strong 
With undivided mind. Thus she 
In her complete virginity 
Austerely brilliant urged her steeds along ; 

Until she came where Latmos sent 
Its rocks into her path ; she bent 
To see how she should guide the wheels aright, 
When, just where gentler darkness made 
A cave apparent by its shade, 
The loveliest mortal form grew on her sight. 

She dropt the reins, the horses reared 
In tumult as the hand that steered 
Their course grew impotent—a moment's change ! 
As her intact and tranquil life 
Was devastated by a strife 
She could not master, tyrannous and strange. 

Fear fell upon her, and the wild 
Revolt of chastity beguiled, 
Of pureness grown a passion against fate ; 
Yet an inevitable joy, 
As her slant chariot toward the boy 
Rolled down, o'ercame her fierce recoil and hate. 

He had flung by his shepherd's dress, 
And in the grace of weariness 
Lay simple, calm, and happy, unaware 
The flashing beauty of his form 
Was filling the soft clouds with storm, 
And tempting Thia's stately child to bare 

Her face and worship. Oh, she drooped 
Her long wings round her, as she stooped 
Close to his cheek, his eyes, his very breath ! 
But ere, in that profound eclipse, 
She brake the fountain of her lips 
O'er her beloved, in swoon as deep as death 

She laid him ; then securely spent 
Her virgin frenzy innocent, 
Then took her maiden pleasure unespied ; 
And, sealing the dark cavern where 
He lay asleep, resumed her care, 
With steady hand her steeds through heaven to guide. 

But nightly from Meander's stream 
Southward she turns her snowy team 
Behind the further slope of Latmos' height, 
Pierces unseen a mountain-rift, 
Then climbs the air, effulgent, swift, 
And fills the lovely river-bed with light.