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SIΜONIDES OF CEOS

DANAË AND HER BABE ADRIFT[1]

When, in the carven chest,
The winds that blew and waves in wild unrest
Smote her with fear, she, not with cheeks unwet,
Her arms of love round Perseus set,
And said: "Ο child, what grief is mine! 5
But thou dost slumber, and thy baby breast
Is sunk in rest,
Here in the cheerless brass-bound bark,
Tossed amid starless night and pitchy dark.
Nor dost thou heed the scudding brine 10
Of waves that wash above thy curls so deep,
Nor the shrill winds that sweep,—
Lapped in thy purple robe's embrace,
Fair little face!
But if this dread were dreadful too to thee, 15
Then wouldst thou lend thy listening ear to me;
Therefore I cry,—Sleep, babe, and sea, be still,
And slumber our unmeasured ill!
Oh, may some change of fate, sire Zeus, from thee
Descend, our woes to end! 20
But if this prayer, too overbold, offend
Thy justice, yet be merciful to me!"

Translated by John Addington Symonds.

 
  1. Danaë was imprisoned in a tower by her father Acrisius, in consequence of an oracle which predicted that he would be slain by his daughter's son. Nevertheless Zeus visited her in a shower of gold, and she bore a son, Perseus. She and her child were then shut up in a chest by her father, and thrown out to sea.