Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ODE TO SAPPHO, by ELIZABETH OAKES PRINCE SMITH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ODE TO SAPPHO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Bright, glowing sappho! Child of love and song
Last Line: Alas! A lyre and heart -- both broken!
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Seba (e. Oakes), Mrs.; Oakes-smith, Elizabeth
Subject(s): Love; Sappho (610-580 B.c.); Soul

Bright, glowing Sappho! child of love and song.
Adown the blueness of long-distant years
Beams forth thy glorious shape, and steal along
Thy melting tones, beguiling us to tears.
Thou priestess of great hearts,
Thrilled with the secret fire
By which a god imparts
The anguish of desire --
For meaner souls be mean content --
Thine was a higher element.
Over Leucadia's rock thou leanest yet,
With thy wild song, and all thy locks outspread;
The stars are in thine eyes, the moon hath set --
The night dew falls upon thy radiant head;
And thy resounding lyre --
Ah! not so wildly sway:
Thy soulful lips inspire
And steal our hearts away!
Swanlike and beautiful, thy dirge
Still moans along the AEgean surge.
No unrequited love filled thy lone heart,
But thine infinitude did on thee weigh,
And all the wildness of despair impart,
Stealing the down from Hope's own wing away.
Couldst thou not suffer on,
Bearing the direful pang,
While thy melodious tone
Through wondering cities rang?
Couldst thou not bear thy godlike grief?
In godlike utterance find relief?
Devotion, fervor, might upon thee wait:
But what were these to thine? all cold and chill,
And left thy burning heart but desolate;
Thy wondrous beauty with despair might fill
The worshipper who bent
Entranced at thy feet:
Too affluent the dower lent
Where song and beauty meet!
Consumed by a Promethean fire
Wert thou, O daughter of the lyre!
Alone, above Leucadia's wave art thou,
Most beautiful, most gifted, yet alone!
Ah! what to thee the crown from Pindar's brow!
What the loud plaudit and the garlands thrown
By the enraptured throng,
When thou in matchless grace
Didst move with lyre and song,
And monarchs gave thee place?
What hast thou left, proud one? what token?
Alas! a lyre and heart -- both broken!

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