The morning glory climbs above my head,
Pale flowers of white and purple, blue and red.
I am disquieted.
Down in the withered grasses something stirred;
I thought it was his footfall that I heard.
Then a grasshopper chirred.
I climbed the hill just as new moon showed,
I saw him coming on the southern road.
My heart lays down its load.
Your sparkling eyes, Lycinus, what divine
Beauties! Call them rather ﬁery rays.
I cannot, facing you, sustain with mine
Momentarily your blazing gaze.
Lounge in the shade of the luxuriant laurel’s
beautiful foliage. And now drink sweet water
from the cold spring so that your limbs weary
with summer toil will find rest in the west wind…
One verse by the blind poet of Chios is indelible:
“The life of man is like a summer’s leaf.”
Yet few who hear these words take them into their heart,
for hope is rooted in every youthful soul,
the lovely flower of youth grows tall with color,
life will have no end,
or there is no place for growing old, for death;
and while in health, no fear of foul disease.
Poor fools! in islands of illusion,
for men have but a day of youth and life.
You few who understand, know when death is near
the food you give your soul must be supreme…
I live here miserable and broken with desire,
pierced through to the bones by the bitterness
of this God-given painful love.
O comrade, this passion makes my limbs limp
and tramples over me.
Some say a host of cavalry, others of infantry,
and others of ships,
is the most beautiful thing on the black earth,
but I say it is whatsoever a person loves.
It is perfectly easy to make this understood by everyone:
for she who far surpassed mankind in beauty, Helen,
left her most noble husband and went sailing off to Troy with no thought at all!
for her child or dear parents, but (love) led her astray . . . lightly . . . and she has reminded me now of Anactoria who is not here;
I would rather see her lovely walk and the bright sparkle of her face
than the Lydians’chariots and armed infantry…
Calamity and conﬂagration! Strife!
Elissus has attained the time of life,
Sixteen, that’s made for love, and he has all
The adolescent graces great and small:
A honeyed voice, a mouth that’s sweet to kiss,
And an accommodating oriﬁce.
But, “Look, don’t touch!” he tells me. What a fate!
I’ll lie awake all night and—meditate.