Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IDYLL 1. THE EPITAPH OF ADONIS, by BION



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

IDYLL 1. THE EPITAPH OF ADONIS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I and the loves adonis dead deplore
Last Line: For thou must wail again, and weep another year.
Subject(s): Adonis; Epitaphs; Mythology - Classical


I AND the Loves Adonis dead deplore:
The beautiful Adonis is indeed
Departed, parted from us. Sleep no more
In purple, Cypris! but in watchet weed,
All-wretched! beat thy breast and all aread—
"Adonis is no more." The Loves and I
Lament him. Oh! her grief to see him bleed,
Smitten by white tooth on his whiter thigh,
Out-breathing life's faint sugh upon the mountain high!

Adown his snowy flesh drops the black gore;
Stiffen beneath his brow his sightless eyes;
The rose is off his lip; with him no more
Lives Cytherea's kiss—but with him dies.
He knows not that her lip his cold lip tries,
But she finds pleasure still in kissing him.
Deep is his thigh-wound; hers yet deeper lies,
E'en in her heart. The Oread's eyes are dim;
His hounds whine piteously; in most disordered trim,

Distraught, unkempt, unsandalled, Cypris rushes
Madly along the tangled thicket-steep;
Her sacred blood is drawn by bramble-bushes;
Her skin is torn; with wailings wild and deep
She wanders through the valley's weary sweep,
Calling her boy-spouse, her Assyrian fere.
But from his thigh the purple jet doth leap
Up to his snowy navel; on the clear
Whiteness beneath his paps the deep-red streaks appear.

"Alas for Cypris!" sigh the Loves, "deprived
Of her fair spouse, she lost her beauty's pride;
Cypris was lovely whilst Adonis lived,
But with Adonis all her beauty died."
Mountains, and oaks, and streams, that broadly glide,
Or wail or weep for her; in tearful rills
For her gush fountains from the mountain side;
Redden the flowers from grief; city and hills
With ditties sadly wild, lorn Cytherea fills.

Alas for Cypris! dead is her Adonis,
And Echo "dead Adonis" doth resound.
Who would not grieve for her whose love so lone is?
But when she saw his cruel, cruel wound,
The purple gore that ran his wan thigh round,
She spread her arms, and lowly murmured: "Stay thee,
That I may find thee as before I found,
My hapless own Adonis! and embay thee,
And mingle lips with lips, whilst in my arms I lay thee.

"Up for a little! kiss me back again
The latest kiss—brief as itself that dies
In being breathed, until I fondly drain
The last breath of my soul, and greedy-wise
Drink it into my core. I will devise
To guard it as Adonis—since from me
To Acheron my own Adonis flies,
And to the drear dread king; but I must be
A goddess still and live, nor can I follow thee.

"But thou, Persephona! my spouse receive,
Mightier than I, since to thy chamber drear
All bloom of beauty falls: but I must grieve
Unceasingly. I have a jealous fear
Of thee, and weep for him. My dearest dear!
Art dead, indeed? away my love did fly,
E'en as a dream. At home my widowed cheer
Keeps the Loves idle; with thy latest sigh
My cestus perished too; thou rash one! why, oh why

"Did'st hunt? so fair, contend with monsters grim?"
Thus Cypris wailed; but dead Adonis lies;
For every gout of blood that fell from him,
She drops a tear; sweet flowers each dew supplies—
Roses his blood, her tears anemonies.
Cypris! no longer in the thickets weep;
The couch is furnished! there in loving guise
Upon thy proper bed, that odorous heap,
The lovely body lies—how lovely! as in sleep.

Come! in those softest vestments now array him
In which he slept the live-long night with thee;
And in the golden settle gently lay him,—
A sad, yet lovely sight; and let him be
High heaped with flowers; though withered all when he
Surceased. With essences him sprinkle o'er
And ointments; let them perish utterly,
Since he, who was thy sweetest, is no more.
He lies in purple; him the weeping Loves deplore.

Their curls are shorn: one breaks his bow; another
His arrows and the quiver; this unstrings,
And takes Adonis' sandal off; his brother
In golden urn the fountain water brings;
This bathes his thighs; that fans him with his wings.
The Loves, "Alas for Cypris!" weeping say:
Hymen hath quenched his torches; shreds and flings
The marriage wreath away; and for the lay
Of love is only heard the doleful "weal-away."

Yet more than Hymen for Adonis weep
The Graces; shriller than Dione vent
Their shrieks; for him the Muses wail and keep
Singing the songs he hears not, with intent
To call him back: and would the nymph relent,
How willingly would he the Muses hear!
Hush! hush! to-day, sad Cypris! and consent
To spare thyself—no more thy bosom tear—
For thou must wail again, and weep another year.





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