Allen Tate

(19 November 1899 - 9 February 1979 / Winchester, Kentucky)

Farewell To Anactoria


(Sappho)

Never the tramp of foot or horse,
Nor lusty cries from ship at sea,
Shall I call loveliest on the dark earth-
My heart moves lovingly.

I say that what one loves is best:
The midnight fastness of the heart.
Helen, you took the beauty of men
With unpitying art!

White Paris from Idean hills
For you the Trojan towers razed
Who swiftly ploughed the black seas
Had on your white arm gazed!

Oh, how loving from afar
Led you to grief, for in your mind
The present was too light, as ever
Among fair womankind. . . .

So, Anactoria, go you away
With what calm carelessness of sorrow!
Your gleaming footstep and your grace,
When comes another morrow,

Much would I rather then behold
Than Lydian cars or infantry.
I ask the lot of blessedness,
Beloved, in memory.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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