O Venus, beauty of the skies,
To whom a thousand temples rise,
Gaily false in gentle smiles,
Full of love-perplexing wiles:
O goddess! from my heart remove
The wasting cares and pains of love.
If ever thou hast kindly heard
A song in soft distress preferr'd,
Propitious to my tuneful vow,
0 gentle goddess! hear me now.
Descend, thou bright, immortal guest,
In all thy radiant charms confess'd.
Thou once didst leave almighty Jove,
And all the golden roofs above:
The car thy wanton sparrows drew,
Hovering in air they lightly flew;
As to my bower they wing'd their way,
I saw their quivering pinions play.
The birds dismiss'd, while you remain,
Bore back their empty car again:
Then you with looks divinely mild,
In every heavenly feature smiled,
And ask'd what new complaints I made,
And why I call'd you to my aid?
What frenzy in my bosom raged,
And by what cure to be assuaged ?
What gentle youth I would allure,
Whom in my artful toils secure?
Who does thy tender heart subdue
Tell me, my Sappho, tell me who?
Though now he shuns thy longing arms,
He soon shall court thy slighted charms;
Though now thy offerings he despise,
He soon to thee shall sacrifice;
Though now he freeze, he soon shall burn,
And be thy victim in his turn.
Celestial visitant, once more
Thy needful presence I implore!
In pity come, and ease my grief,
Bring my distemper'd soul relief,
Favour thy suppliant's hidden fires,
And give me all my heart desires.
Sappho, from Lesbos, Greece. b.615- d.around 550 B.C.
English translation by Ambrose Philips, 1711