The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/From Anacreon

For works with similar titles, see Translation from Anacreon (Byron).


Μεσονυκτίοις ποθ' ὥραις, κ.τ.λ.[1]

ODE 3.

'Twas now the hour when Night had driven
Her car half round yon sable heaven;
Boötes, only, seem'd to roll[2]
His Arctic charge around the Pole;
While mortals, lost in gentle sleep,
Forgot to smile, or ceas'd to weep:
At this lone hour the Paphian boy,
Descending from the realms of joy,
Quick to my gate directs his course,
And knocks with all his little force;
My visions fled, alarm'd I rose,—
"What stranger breaks my blest repose?"
"Alas!" replies the wily child
In faltering accents sweetly mild;
"A hapless Infant here I roam,
Far from my dear maternal home.
Oh! shield me from the wintry blast!
The nightly storm is pouring fast.
No prowling robber lingers here;
A wandering baby who can fear?"
I heard his seeming artless tale,[3]
I heard his sighs upon the gale:
My breast was never pity's foe,
But felt for all the baby's woe.
I drew the bar, and by the light
Young Love, the infant, met my sight;
His bow across his shoulders flung,
And thence his fatal quiver hung
(Ah! little did I think the dart
Would rankle soon within my heart).
With care I tend my weary guest,
His little fingers chill my breast;
His glossy curls, his azure wing,
Which droop with nightly showers, I wring;
His shivering limbs the embers warm;
And now reviving from the storm,
Scarce had he felt his wonted glow,
Than swift he seized his slender bow:—
"I fain would know, my gentle host,"
He cried, "if this its strength has lost;
I fear, relax'd with midnight dews,
The strings their former aid refuse."
With poison tipt, his arrow flies,
Deep in my tortur'd heart it lies:
Then loud the joyous Urchin laugh'd:—
"My bow can still impel the shaft:
'Tis firmly fix'd, thy sighs reveal it;
Say, courteous host, canst thou not feel it?"

  1. [The motto does not appear in Hours of Idleness or Poems O. and T.]
  2. The Newstead MS. inserts—
    No Moon in silver robe was seen
    Nor e'en a trembling star between.
  3. Touched with the seeming artless tale
    Compassion's tears o'er doubt prevail;
    Methought I viewed him, cold and damp,
    I trimmed anew my dying lamp,
    Drew back the bar—and by the light
    A pinioned Infant met my sight;
    His bow across his shoulders slung,
    And hence a gilded quiver hung;
    With care I tend my weary guest,
    His shivering hands by mine are pressed:
    My hearth I load with embers warm
    To dry the dew drops of the storm:
    Drenched by the rain of yonder sky
    The strings are weak—but let us try.—[MS. Newstead.]