Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HAGESICHORA, by ALCMAN



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HAGESICHORA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Vengeance is god's: he will repay
Last Line: In her companion's hair. . . .
Alternate Author Name(s): Alkman


VENGEANCE is God's: he will repay.
Lucky who, without a tear,
fills the pattern of one day
with gaiety.

And now, give ear!
Of radiant Agido my lay
shall be -- her radiance as clear
as the sun, whose morning ray
she conjures to appear.

I hear,
but any praise or any blame of her
is silenced by our fair chief-chorister
whose beauty seems as high and rare
as if with brutes one should compare
a sturdy thundering horse, a champion,
of winged dreams the son.

There's the likeness, plain to see:
steed of proud Enetic race,
and my cousin -- fair is she
and her tresses have the grace
of a golden filigree;
beneath the gold, a silver face --
shall I say whose it must be?

It is Hagesichora's.
In beauty they shall be competitors --
a Lydian horse to pace a Scythian horse.
For while we make our offering
the Pleiades arise and sing
in rivalry, like Sirius burning bright
in the ambrosial night.

Not the wealth of crimson dress
makes our choir victorious,
nor do golden snakes that press
wrist and neck embolden us;
Lydian coif brings not success --
veiling our luxurious
maiden-eyes -- nor Nanno's tress
nor Arete the beauteous.
Sylakis, or Kleesisera? nay --
Nor at the school of Ainesimbrote
can you say 'My saviour is
Philylla, or Astaphis,
lovely Vianthemis, Damareta --'
'tis Hagesichora!

Look, beside me sings my friend,
my cousin, of the ankles small:
Agido and she commend
alike our ceremonial.
Immortals, who possess the end
of every action, hear their call
with favour, as their voices blend!
For my own singing is the squall
which the owl screeches foolishly above
the rooftree; though my heart would dearly love
to please the goddess Dawn who brings
comfort for our sufferings.
Yet Hagesichora leads us with song
to peace, for which we long.

The chariot obediently
follows the outrunning steed;
men obey the helmsman's cry,
when on shipboard, with all speed.
Our own leader's melody
though it surpasses not, indeed,
the Sirens -- they are gods -- will vie
with ten or more of mortal breed.
Her voice is like a swan upon the streams
of Xanthus river; and the golden gleams
in her companion's hair. . . .





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