Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From Sappho’s Letter to Phaon
By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)
Translation of Alexander Pope (see full text)

A SPRING there is, where silver waters show,
Clear as a glass, the shining sands below;
A flowery lotus spreads its arms above,
Shades all the banks, and seems itself a grove;
Eternal greens the mossy margin grace,        5
Watched by the sylvan genius of the place.
Here as I lay, and swelled with tears the flood,
Before my sight a watery virgin stood;
She stood and cried, “Oh, you that love in vain,
Fly hence, and seek the fair Leucadian main!        10
There stands a rock, from whose impending steep
Apollo’s fane surveys the rolling deep;
There injured lovers, leaping from above,
Their flames extinguish and forget to love.
Deucalion once with hopeless fury burned;        15
In vain he loved,—relentless Pyrrha scorned:
But when from hence he plunged into the main,
Deucalion scorned and Pyrrha loved in vain.
Hence, Sappho, haste! from high Leucadia throw
Thy wretched weight, nor dread the deeps below.”        20
She spoke, and vanished with the voice;—I rise,
And silent tears fall trickling from my eyes.
I go, ye nymphs, those rocks and seas to prove
And much I fear; but ah! how much I love!
I go, ye nymphs, where furious love inspires;        25
Let female fears submit to female fires.
To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon’s hate,
And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate.
Ye gentle gales, below my body blow,
And softly lay me on the waves below!        30
And then, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain,
Spread thy soft wings, and waft me o’er the main,
Nor let a lover’s death the guiltless flood profane!
On Phœbus’s shrine my harp I’ll then bestow,
And this inscription shall be placed below:—        35
“Here she who sung to him that did inspire,
Sappho to Phœbus, consecrates her lyre;
What suits with Sappho, Phœbus, suits with thee,—
The gift, the giver, and the god agree.”

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