Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ARCADIUS AND SEPHA, by WILLIAM BOSWORTH



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ARCADIUS AND SEPHA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Near to the caspian straits, where dolphins sing
Last Line: Bend all my power to tell her fate, and die.'
Alternate Author Name(s): William Boxworth
Subject(s): Sappho (610-580 B.c.)


I

NEAR to the Caspian straits, where dolphins sing,
Hippobatos, a verdant meadow, lay,
Along which meadow ran a silver spring,
Winding her streams as careless of her way:
Here would she stay, and seem returning home,
Till with herself, herself was overcome.

II

Down by which brook there sat a little lad,
A little lad nam'd Epimenides,
Close to his foot a little dog he had,
Whose master's face character'd his disease;
Sighing, he said, and to the Powers above,
'Make me (O Gods) immortal for my love.

III

Snatch hence my soul, the better part I have,
And him of his detested life deprive,
Who vows to live obscurely in a cave.
Shall Sepha die, and I remain alive?
Satyrs, go weep, and when ye hear her name,
Blow forth my Love's inevitable fame.

IV

Let swiftest thoughts possess my Sepha's name,
And sound her praise as swift as eagles fly,
Let marble be proud to preserve the same,
Lest rotten time outslip her memory,
Lest trumpets cease to sound, and so forbear it,
Let echoes learn to dictate when they hear it.

V

Ye sliding streams, that pass so gently by,
Winding your waves, and do not faster flee,
Joy you to hear my Sepha's elegy?
Or do you linger to condole with me?
'Tis to condole, since such is my estate,
Your bubbling streams do murmur at my fate.

VI

Ye little birds that us'd to sit and sing,
While Dryades with Music's nimble touch,
(When woods and valleys did of Sepha ring)
Present harmonious tunes, to make her couch
A nest of Heav'nly raptures, sweeter far,
With purer notes, than earthly noises are.

VII

Why do you now my Sepha's tunes forbear?
Why do you cease to tune my Sepha's lays?
Why don't you now to wonted trees repair?
Why don't you sit and sing my Sepha's praise?
Ye warbling chanters that such music bred,
Are ye grown weary, or is Sepha dead?

VIII

Or Sepha dead? is heav'nly Sepha dead?
No more shall earth be happy with her sweet,
No more shall eyes be with her beauty fed,
No more shall flowers be proud to kiss her feet,
No more shall Phoebus court her in a show'r,
No more shall bees mistake her for a flow'r.

IX

In blessed times when virtuous Sepha liv'd,
The happy earth was with her beauty blest;
Each greedy eye, that saw not Sepha, griev'd,
Each flower was proud to be by Sepha prest,
Love-show'ring Phoebus spar'd no am'rous time,
And bees on her did think to gather thyme.

X

Blest be the season, and the hour blest,
When first my eyes in Sepha's eyes were seen,
When first my hopes began to build their nest,
When first I saw her walking on yon green,
When first my lips sipt nectar from her breast,
Blest be the season, and the hour blest.

XI

Ye stately pines that dwell on lofty hills,
Stoop down your heads with a dejected fall,
Let Boreas go sport with whom he wills,
And though you knew her not, nor never shall,
Sob forth her plaints with a bewailing eye,
And say 'twas Sepha's death that made you die.

XII

Smilax and Crocus, little blushing flowers,
Hence cease your red, and let your pale begin,
And say you want those sweet distilling showers,
That Phoebus us'd to court fair Sepha in:
Lilies, forbear to stoop your drooping head;
For now your shame, the fairest Lily's dead.

XIII

That Lily's dead in whom all graces been,
That Lily's dead, the fairest of the Nine,
That Lily's dead, where Nature's art was seen,
That Lily's dead, whose odours were divine.
That Lily, than whom more fairer there was none,
Is pluck't away, the fairest Lily's gone.

XIV

She was the fairest, and the sweetest creature,
That ever yet was subject to the Gods,
For they resolv'd she was the only feature
In whom they joy'd -- the Powers delight in odds,
To deck their tents. Fair Sepha 'twas that mov'd
My soul to bless thee, Sepha, whom I lov'd.

XV

Some poets feign there is a Heav'n on earth,
Earth hath its joys to make a happy time,
Admired odours giving a new birth,
And sweet'ning joys, with Melli-Flora's thyme;
'Tis not a feigned, but Heav'n rightly fam'd,
For I enjoy'd the Heav'n the poets nam'd.

XVI

Jove was propitious when I first begun
To court fair Sepha, Echo's nimble charm:
Rose-cheek't Adonis, fairer than the Sun,
Had not a sweeter choice, nor kinder harm;
Rough-footed satyrs, satyrs, nymphs and fauns,
Scatter'd her praise throughout Diana's lawns.

XVII

If I but walk't in Tempe, or the groves,
To meditate my melancholy lays,
I was saluted with the murm'ring loves
Of shady pines, repining at her praise.
Griev'd at her praise, when they her name did hear,
They sigh for want of her sweet presence there.

XVIII

Or if (weary of sighs) I left the bowers,
To recreate me in the whisp'ring air,
I was saluted with distilling showers,
That brought me tidings of my sweetest fair.
Coming from Heav'n they told me news of this,
Jove had prepar'd already for her bliss.

XIX

If to the mountains I a voyage took,
Mountains with roses, and with pinks adorn'd,
There lay Adonis by his silver hook,
Courted by Venus, Venus by him scorn'd,
Venus with tears presents young Cupid's letter,
He hates her vows, and loves fair Sepha better.

XX

If to the garden Flora me invited,
Where all the dainty flowers are said to lie,
Those dainty flowers, that so much once delighted,
Are now abasht, and in their beauty die,
Lilies and Roses startle at her name,
One pale for fear, the other red for shame.

XXI

If to the woods persuaded by my Muse,
Even there were echoes of fair Sepha's glory,
The warbling chanters made a fine excuse
For her delay; and chanted forth the story
Of her best praise; by which I understood,
They striv'd with tunes to tell her to the wood.

XXII

If I but chanc'd to walk unto the springs,
There sat the Muses warbling forth her story,
Wanton Thalia with sweet raptures sings,
Folding her name in Heav'n's immortal glory.
With hymns, and lays, they prattle forth delight,
And count her name the pen with which they write.

XXIII

Yet sad Melpomene rejoiceth not,
Nor aught but imprecations 'stows upon her;
She saith her beauty is to her a blot,
Whose so much goodness robs them of their honour:
Help then, Melpomene, with thy sad verse,
To tell her fate, and howl upon her herse.'

XXIV

These were the plaints the Cretan lad bestow'd
The funerals of his fair Sepha's death:
'Behold,' said he, 'the service that I ow'd,
And vow'd to pay Sepha shall be my breath.'
When heard by ladies of renowned glory,
They urg'd him to relate his Sepha's story.

XXV

'Ladies (said he) if your unhappy ears,
Admit such sad disasters to have room,
If by your looks your inward thoughts appears,
You'll elegize this story that shall come.
You'll sigh to hear my Sepha's hap, while I
Bend all my power to tell her fate, and die.'





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