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The Sorceress.

Where are the bay-leaves, Thestylis, and the charms?
Fetch all; with fiery wool the caldron crown;
Let glamour win me back my false lord’s heart!
Twelve days the wretch hath not come nigh to me,
Nor made enquiry if I die or live,
Nor clamoured (oh unkindness!) at my door.
Sure his swift fancy wanders otherwhere,
The slave of Aphrodite and of Love.
I’ll off to Timagetus’ wrestling-school
At dawn, that I may see him and denounce
His doings; but I’ll charm him now with charms.
So shine out fair, O moon! To thee I sing
My soft low song: to thee and Hecate
The dweller in the shades, at whose approach
E’en the dogs quake, as on she moves through blood
And darkness and the barrows of the slain.
All hail, dread Hecate: companion me
Unto the end, and work me witcheries
Potent as Circe or Medea wrought,
Or Perimede of the golden hair!
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
First we ignite the grain. Nay, pile it on:
Where are thy wits flown, timorous Thestylis?
Shall I be flouted, I, by such as thou?
Pile, and still say, ‘This pile is of his bones.’
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
Delphis racks me: I burn him in these bays.
As, flame-enkindled, they lift up their voice,
Blaze once, and not a trace is left behind:
So waste his flesh to powder in yon fire!
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
E’en as I melt, not uninspired, the wax,
May Mindian Delphis melt this hour with love:
And, swiftly as this brazen wheel whirls round,
May Aphrodite whirl him to my door.
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
Next burn the husks. Hell’s adamantine floor
And aught that else stands firm can Artemis move.
Thestylis, the hounds bay up and down the town:
The goddess stands i’ the crossroads: sound the gongs.
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
Hushed are the voices of the winds and seas;
But O not hushed the voice of my despair.
He burns my being up, who left me here
No wife, no maiden, in my misery.
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
Thrice I pour out; speak thrice, sweet mistress, thus:
“What face soe’er hangs o’er him be forgot
Clean as, in Dia, Theseus (legends say)
Forgat his Ariadne’s locks of love.”
Turn, magic, wheel, draw homeward him I love.
The coltsfoot grows in Arcady, the weed
That drives the mountain-colts and swift mares wild.
Like them may Delphis rave: so, maniac-wise,
Race from his burnished brethren home to me.
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
He lost this tassel from his robe; which I
Shred thus, and cast it on the raging flames.
Ah baleful Love! why, like the marsh-born leech,
Cling to my flesh, and drain my dark veins dry?
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
From a crushed eft tomorrow he shall drink
Death! But now, Thestylis, take these herbs and smear
That threshold o’er, whereto at heart I cling
Still, still albeit he thinks scorn of me
And spit, and say, ‘’Tis Delphis’ bones I smear.’
Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.

[Exit Thestylis.

Now, all alone, I’ll weep a love whence sprung
When born? Who wrought my sorrow? Anaxo came,
Her basket in her hand, to Artemis’ grove.
Bound for the festival, troops of forest beasts
Stood round, and in the midst a lioness.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
Theucharidas’ slave, my Thracian nurse now dead
Then my near neighbour, prayed me and implored
To see the pageant: I, the poor doomed thing,
Went with her, trailing a fine silken train,
And gathering round me Clearista’s robe.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
Now, the mid-highway reached by Lycon’s farm,
Delphis and Eudamippus passed me by.
With beards as lustrous as the woodbine’s gold
And breasts more sheeny than thyself, O Moon,
Fresh from the wrestler’s glorious toil they came.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
I saw, I raved, smit (weakling) to my heart.
My beauty withered, and I cared no more
For all that pomp; and how I gained my home
I know not: some strange fever wasted me.
Ten nights and days I lay upon my bed.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
And wan became my flesh, as ’t had been dyed,
And all my hair streamed off, and there was left
But bones and skin. Whose threshold crossed I not,
Or missed what grandam’s hut who dealt in charms?
For no light thing was this, and time sped on.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
At last I spake the truth to that my maid:
“Seek, an thou canst, some cure for my sore pain.
Alas, I am all the Mindian’s! But begone,
And watch by Timagetus’ wrestling-school:
There doth he haunt, there soothly take his rest.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
“Find him alone: nod softly: say, ‘she waits’;
And bring him.” So I spake: she went her way,
And brought the lustrous-limbed one to my roof.
And I, the instant I beheld him step
Lightfooted o’er the threshold of my door,
(Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love,)
Became all cold like snow, and from my brow
Brake the damp dewdrops: utterance I had none,
Not e’en such utterance as a babe may make
That babbles to its mother in its dreams;
But all my fair frame stiffened into wax.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
He bent his pitiless eyes on me; looked down,
And sate him on my couch, and sitting, said:
“Thou hast gained on me, Simaetha, (e’en as I
Gained once on young Philinus in the race,)
Bidding me hither ere I came unasked.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
“For I had come, by Eros I had come,
This night, with comrades twain or may-be more,
The fruitage of the Wine-god in my robe,
And, wound about my brow with ribands red,
The silver leaves so dear to Heracles.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
“Had ye said ‘Enter,’ well: for ’mid my peers
High is my name for goodliness and speed:
I had kissed that sweet mouth once and gone my way.
But had the door been barred, and I thrust out,
With brand and axe would we have stormed ye then.
Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.
“Now be my thanks recorded, first to Love,
Next to thee, maiden, who didst pluck me out,
A half-burned helpless creature, from the flames,
And badst me hither. It is Love that lights
A fire more fierce than his of Lipara;
(Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.)
“Scares, mischief-mad, the maiden from her bower,
The bride from her warm couch.” He spake: and I,
A willing listener, sat, my hand in his,
Among the cushions, and his cheek touched mine,
Each hotter than its wont, and we discoursed
In soft low language. Need I prate to thee,
Sweet Moon, of all we said and all we did?
Till yesterday he found no fault with me,
Nor I with him. But lo, to-day there came
Philista’s mother hers who flutes to me
With her Melampo’s; just when up the sky
Gallop the mares that chariot rose-limbed Dawn:
And divers tales she brought me, with the rest
How Delphis loved, she knew not rightly whom:
But this she knew; that of the rich wine, aye
He poured ‘to Love;’ and at the last had fled,
To line, she deemed, the fair one’s hall with flowers.
Such was my visitor’s tale, and it was true:
For thrice, nay four times, daily he would stroll
Hither, leave here full oft his Dorian flask:
Now ’tis a fortnight since I saw his face.
Doth he then treasure something sweet elsewhere?
Am I forgot? I’ll charm him now with charms.
But let him try me more, and by the Fates
He’ll soon be knocking at the gates of hell.
Spells of such power are in this chest of mine,
Learned, lady, from mine host in Palestine.

Lady, farewell: turn ocean-ward thy steeds:
As I have purposed, so shall I fulfil.
Farewell, thou bright-faced Moon! Ye stars, farewell,
That wait upon the car of noiseless Night.