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IDYL XVIII.

EPITHAL AMIU M.

Twelve Spartan virgins, the Laconian bloom,
Choired before their Helen's bridal room,
New-hung with tapestry : entwined the fair
With hyacinths their hyacinthine hair ;
When Menelaus, Atreus’ younger pride,
Locked in sweet Tyndaris, his lovely bride ;
To the same time with cadence true they beat
The rapid round of intertwining feet;
One measure tript, one song together sung-
Their hymenæan all the palace rung.

“So early, bridegroom ! fix'd in slumber deep ? So heavy-limbed, with such a love for sleep ? Thyself, wine-heavy, on the bed hast thrown For only rest ? thou shouldst have slept alone,

And with her mother left the girl to play
With only girls until the break of day.
She's thine from day to day, and year to year-
Thrice-happy bridegroom ! on thy way 'tis clear
Good demon sneezed, that only thou shouldst gain
The prize so many princes would obtain,
Only of demigods, whose bosomed love
Her husband makes the son-in-law of Jove !
Jove's daughter, peerless beauty-bud of Greece,
Now lies with thee beneath one broidered fleece.
What offspring to thy hopes will she prefer-
Could her dear offspring but resemble her!
Where flows Eurotas in his pleasant place,
Thrice eighty virgins we pursued the race,
Like men, anointed with the glistering oil,
A bloom of maiden buds -- love's blushing spoil :
Of equal years ; but seen by Helen's side
Not one, in whom some blemish was not spied.
As rising Morn, oh, venerable Night!
Shows from thy bosom dark her face of light;
As the clear spring, when winter's gloom is gone,
So mid our throng the golden Helen shone.
As of a field or garden ornament,
The lofty cypress shoots up eminent ;

As of the chariot the Thessalian steed,
So rosy Helen of the Spartan breed
Is ornament and grace. Like Helen none
Draws the fine thread around the spindle spun,
And in the ready basket piles so much ;
None interlaces with so quick a touch
The woof and warp; for other never came
A web so perfect from the broidering frame.
Like Helen none the cithern knows to ring,
Of Artemis or tall Athene sing,
Like Helen, in whose liquid-shining eyes
Desire, the light of love, dissolving lies.
O fair and lovely girl I a matron now-
Where meadow-flowers in dewy brightness grow,
We'll hie with early dawn, and fondly pull
Sweets to twine garlands for our beautiful ;
Remembering Helen with our fond regrets,
As for the absent ewe her suckling frets.
Of lotuses we'll hang thee many a wreath
Upon the shady plane, and drop beneath
Oil from the silver pyx; and on the bark,
In Doric, shall be graved for all to mark,
“ To me pay honour -I am Helen's tree.”
Hail, bride I high-wedded bridegroom, hail to thee !
Fruitful Latona fruit of marriage give ;
Cypris in bonds of mutual love to live ;
And Zeus the wealth that shall without an end
From high-born sire to high-born son descend !
Sleep, happy pair! in love enjoy your rest,
Breathing desire into each other's breast.
But wake at dawn ; for we'll present us here
At the first call of crested chanticleer.
Hymen, O Hymenæan ! joyful spread
With love's contentment sweet this marriage-bed.

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