Now sing, O slight girls

Now sing, O slight girls,
Without change of note,
My death-paeon and Artemis' chant.
Stand silent, you Greeks
The fire kindles
They step to do sacrifice
With reed-basket of salt-cakes:
I come—I free Hellas.
My father, as priest awaits me
At the right altar-step.

Hail me now
I destroy Phrygia and all Troy.
Clasp on the flower-circlet
Wind it through the locks just caught with it.
Bear water in a deep bowl.
Stand around the temple-front
And the altar of heaped earth.
For I come to do sacrifice,
To break the might of the curse,
To honour the queen, if she permit,
The great one, with my death. CH .

O, mother, high-born,
Of proud birth,
Will you not weep for us?
For we may not cry out
In the splendour of this holy place. IPH .

Slight girls, stand forth,
Chant Artemis—Artemis:
She fronts the coast,
She stands opposite Chalkis—
For spears will clash in the contest
My fame has brought
In the shelter of these narrow straits.

Hail, land of my birth.
Hail Mykenae, where I once dwelt— CH .

(She calls upon the city of Perseos,
Built of unchiselled rock.) IPH .

—you brought me to the Greek light
And I will not hold you guilty
For my death CH .

Your name will never be forgotten,
Your honour will always last. IPH .

Alas, day, you brought light,
You trailed splendour
You showed us god:
I salute you, most precious one,
But I go to a new place,
Another life. CH .

Alas, she steps forward
To destroy Ilium and the Phrygians
A wreath is about her head,
She takes water in a dish.

She comes to meet death,
To stain the altar of the goddess,
To hold her girl-throat
Toward the knife-thrust.

The land-springs await
And the sacred bowls
And the Greek host, eager to depart.
But let us not forget
With our past happiness,
Artemis, daughter of god,
Queen among the great.
But cry out:
Artemis, rejoicer in blood-sacrifice,
Send the force of the Greeks
To Troy and the Phrygian court.

And grant that Agamemnon may clasp
Fame, never to be forgot
Upon his brow—encircled
By Greek spear-shafts,
May he gain honour for all the Greeks.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.