Φαῖσι δή ποτα Λήδαν ὐακινθίνων
[ὐπ’ ἀνθέων] πεπυκαδμένον
SHE loved the perfumed inlet; in the spring
The swans were wont to sail to her and sing—
Leda, there was a bird of lustrous wing !
And there one day she found, 'tis said,
An egg hid in the hyacinth-bed.
She stooped, and looked down at it with delight
And wonder ; 'twas so much, ah, much more white
Than any ever seen before, and right
Against the purple buds was prest
As in a very blossom-nest.
She watched the leafy clusters as they grew,
And smelt the flowers, and with her fingers drew
The arching stalks together, from men's view
To hide the egg, and kept about
The spot till every bunch was out,
And deep in bloom the glistering thing was laid.
" But soon," she thought, " the crowded flowers will fade ! "
And, as she peered down anxious, from the shade
A lovely, laughing child looked up
With lips just parted from a cup
Of nectarous blossom-honey that still dript.
How white were the soft limbs, as Leda stript
The cradle of its guardian leaves, and dipt
The gracious child, and understood
Her god had given her motherhood !
Thus Zeus did for his heavenly girl provide
A safe retreat ; and she grew up beside
The hyacinths and the swans who should be bride
To Paris, and distract and bless
The whole world with her loveliness.