Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LAMENT FOR ADONIS, by BION



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LAMENT FOR ADONIS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I mourn for adonis - adonis is dead
Last Line: And weep new when a new year refits thee for weeping.
Subject(s): Adonis; Mythology - Classical


I

I MOURN for Adonis -- Adonis is dead,
Fair Adonis is dead and the Loves are lamenting.
Sleep, Cypris, no more on thy purple-strewed bed:
Arise, wretch stoled in black; beat thy breast unrelenting,
And shriek to the worlds, 'Fair Adonis is dead!'

II

I mourn for Adonis -- the Loves are lamenting,
He lies on the hills in his beauty and death;
The white tusk of a boar has transpierced his white thigh.
Cytherea grows mad at his thin gasping breath,
While the black blood drips down on the pale ivory,
And his eyeballs lie quenched with the weight of his brows,
The rose fades from his lips, and upon them just parted
The kiss dies the goddess consents not to lose,
Though the kiss of the Dead cannot make her glad-hearted:
He knows not who kisses him dead in the dews.

III

I mourn for Adonis -- the Loves are lamenting.
Deep, deep in the thigh is Adonis's wound,
But a deeper, is Cypris's bosom presenting.
The youth lieth dead while his dogs howl around,
And the nymphs weep aloud from the mists of the hill,
And the poor Aphrodite, with tresses unbound,
All dishevelled, unsandaled, shrieks mournful and shrill
Through the dusk of the groves. The thorns, tearing her feet,
Gather up the red flower of her blood which is holy,
Each footstep she takes; and the valleys repeat
The sharp cry she utters and draw it out slowly.
She calls on her spouse, her Assyrian, on him
Her own youth, while the dark blood spreads over his body,
The chest taking hue from the gash in the limb,
And the bosom, onceivory, turning to ruddy.

IV

Ah, ah, Cytherea! the Loves are lamenting.
She lost her fair spouse and so lost her fair smile:
When he lived she was fair, by the whole world's consenting,
Whose fairness is dead with him: woe worth the while!
All the mountains above and the oaklands below
Murmur, ah, ah, Adonis! the streams overflow
Aphrodite's deep wail; river-fountains in pity
Weep soft in the hills, and the flowers as they blow
Redden outward with sorrow, while all hear her go
With the song of her sadness through mountain and city.

V

Ah, ah, Cytherea! Adonis is dead,
Fair Adonis is dead -- Echo answers, Adonis!
Who weeps not for Cypris, when bowing her head
She stares at the wound where it gapes and astonies?
-- When, ah, ah! -- she saw how the blood ran away
And empurpled the thigh, and, with wild hands flung out,
Said with Sobs: 'Stay, Adonis! unhappy one, stay,
Let me feel thee once more, let me ring thee about
With the clasp of my arms, and press kiss into kiss!
Wait a little, Adonis, and kiss me again,
For the last time, beloved, -- and but so much of this
That the kiss may learn life from the warmth of the strain!
-- Till thy breath shall exude from thy soul to my mouth,
To my heart, and, the love-charm I once more receiving
May drink thy love in it and keep of a truth
That one kiss in the place of Adonis the living.
Thou fliest me, mournful one, fliest me far,
My Adonis, and seekest the Acheron portal, --
To Hell's cruel King goest down with a scar,
While I weep and live on like a wretched immortal,
And follow no step! O Persephone, take him,
My husband! -- thou 'rt better and brighter than I,
So all beauty flows down to thee: I cannot make him
Look up at my grief; there's despair in my cry,
Since I wail for Adonis who died to me -- died to me --
Then, I fear thee! -- Art thou dead, my Adored?
Passion ends like a dream in the sleep that's denied to me,
Cypris is widowed, the Loves seek their lord
All the house through in vain. Charm of cestus has ceased
With thy clasp! O too bold in the hunt past preventing,
Ay, mad, thou so fair, to have strife with a beast!'
Thus the goddess wailed on -- and the Loves are lamenting.

VI

Ah, ah, Cytherea! Adonis is dead.
She wept tear after tear with the blood which was shed,
And both turned into flowers for the earth's garden-close,
Her tears, to the windflower; his blood, to the rose.

VII

I mourn for Adonis -- Adonis is dead.
Weep no more in the woods, Cytherea, thy lover!
So, well: make a place for his corse in thy bed,
With the purples thou sleepest in, under and over.
He's fair though a corse -- a fair corse, like a sleeper.
Lay him soft in the silks he had pleasure to fold
When, beside thee at night, holy dreams deep and deeper
Enclosed his young life on the couch made of gold.
Love him still, poor Adonis; cast on him together
The crowns and the flowers: since he died from the place,
Why, let all die with him; let the blossoms go wither,
Rain myrtles and olive-buds down on his face.
Rain the myrrh down, let all that is best fall a-pining,
Since the myrrh of his life from thy keeping is swept.
Pale he lay, thine Adonis, in purples reclining;
The Loves raised their voices around him and wept.
They have shorn their bright curls off to cast on Adonis;
One treads on his bow, -- on his arrows, another, --
One breaks up a well-feathered quiver, and one is
Bent low at a sandal, untying the strings,
And one carries the vases of gold from the springs,
While one washes the wound, -- and behind them a brother
Fans down on the body sweet air with his wings.

VIII

Cytherea herself now the Loves are lamenting.
Each torch at the door Hymenaeus blew out;
And, the marriage-wreath dropping its leaves as repenting,
No more 'Hymen, Hymen,' is chanted about,
But the ai ai instead -- 'Ai alas!' is begun
For Adonis, and then follows 'Ai Hymenaeus!'
The Graces are weeping for Cinyris's son,
Sobbing low each to each, 'His fair eyes cannot see us!'
Their wail strikes more shrill than the sadder Dione's.
The Fates mourn aloud for Adonis, Adonis,
Deep chanting; he hears not a word that they say:
He would hear, but Persephone has him in keeping.
-- Cease moan, Cytherea! leave pomps for to-day,
And weep new when a new year refits thee for weeping.





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