She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Written June 12, 1814. This poem is in the public domain.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
This poem is in the public domain.
In a dream I spoke with the Cyprus-born, And said to her, "Mother of beauty, mother of joy, Why hast thou given to men "This thing called love, like the ache of a wound In beauty's side, To burn and throb and be quelled for an hour And never wholly depart?" And the daughter of Cyprus said to me, "Child of the earth, Behold, all things are born and attain, But only as they desire,— "The sun that is strong, the gods that are wise, The loving heart, Deeds and knowledge and beauty and joy,— But before all else was desire."
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen on the black earth is an array of horsemen; some, men marching; some would say ships; but I say she whom one loves best is the loveliest. Light were the work to make this plain to all, since she, who surpassed in beauty all mortality, Helen, once forsaking her lordly husband, fled away to Troy—land across the water. Not the thought of child nor beloved parents was remembered, after the Queen of Cyprus won her at first sight. Since young brides have hearts that can be persuaded easily, light things, palpitant to passion as am I, remembering Anaktória who has gone from me and whose lovely walk and the shining pallor of her face I would rather see before my eyes than Lydia's chariots in all their glory armored for battle.
Reprinted from Greek Lyrics, edited by Richmond Lattimore, published by the University of Chicago Press, copyright © 1949, 1960 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
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In my eyes he matches the gods, that man who sits there facing you--any man whatever-- listening from closeby to the sweetness of your voice as you talk, the sweetness of your laughter: yes, that--I swear it-- sets the heart to shaking inside my breast, since once I look at you for a moment, I can't speak any longer, but my tongue breaks down, and then all at once a subtle fire races inside my skin, my eyes can't see a thing and a whirring whistle thrums at my hearing, cold sweat covers me and a trembling takes ahold of me all over: I'm greener than the grass is and appear to myself to be little short of dying. But all must be endured, since even a poor [
From The Poetry of Sappho (Oxford University Press 2007), translated by Jim Powell. Copyright © 2007 by Jim Powell. Reprinted by permission of the author.