My daughter, when I come to die


Οὑ γὰρ Θέμις ἐν μουσοπόλων οἰκίᾳ θρῆνον εἶναι·
οὐκ ἄμμι πρέπει τάδε.

MY daughter, when I come to die 
Thou shalt not rend thy garb nor cry : 
    Though Hades smite the door, 
        Apollo is within, 
  He whose pure footsteps on the floor 
Would make thy grief and wailing breath a sin. 

Nay, lamentation must not dwell 
Within a poet's house—the spell, 
    The loveliness of word 
    And healing sound ordain 
  That in our chambers may be heard 
No dissonant, untempered cries of pain. 

For joy it is that makes the heart 
Grow lyrical, and joy has part 
    In each regret and pang 
    Avowed in noble verse ; 
  Of love, the bitter-sweet, I sang 
Because I owned a glory in its curse. 

Distress befits not us who praise 
The Healer, golden-browed, and raise 
    A paean to his might 
    Of gladness and of youth ; 
  From him who overcame the night 
Issues life's passionate, assuaging truth. 

Mortals, fore-doomed, must pass away : 
O Cleïs the beloved, why stay 
    Shut in the dark, and spend 
    Vain hours of sodden gloom 
  Because my life has reached its end, 
And mourners pour libations at my tomb ? 

Why from the happy fields in sloth 
Withdraw thy feet, as thou wert loth 
    That thought of me should mix 
    With sun and living air ;
  Why must the melancholy Styx 
Flow round the pleasures we were wont to share ? 

My child, I give the grave small thought, 
For I have sung and loved, and nought 
    Can make the years obscure 
    In which I drew warm breath ; 
  My dark-leaved laurels will endure, 
And I shall walk in grandeur till my death.