The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/Translation of the Romaic Song


"Μπένω μεσ' τὸ περιβόλι,
Ὡραιοτάτη Χαηδή," κ.τ.λ.[1]

I enter thy garden of roses,
Belovéd and fair Haidée,
Each morning where Flora reposes,
For surely I see her in thee.
Oh, Lovely! thus low I implore thee,
Receive this fond truth from my tongue,
Which utters its song to adore thee,
Yet trembles for what it has sung;
As the branch, at the bidding of Nature,
Adds fragrance and fruit to the tree,
Through her eyes, through her every feature,
Shines the soul of the young Haidée.

But the loveliest garden grows hateful
When Love has abandoned the bowers;
Bring me hemlock—since mine is ungrateful,
That herb is more fragrant than flowers.
The poison, when poured from the chalice,
Will deeply embitter the bowl;
But when drunk to escape from thy malice,
The draught shall be sweet to my soul.
Too cruel! in vain I implore thee
My heart from these horrors to save
Will nought to my bosom restore thee?
Then open the gates of the grave.

As the chief who to combat advances
Secure of his conquest before,
Thus thou, with those eyes for thy lances,
Hast pierced through my heart to its core.
Ah, tell me, my soul! must I perish
By pangs which a smile would dispel?
Would the hope, which thou once bad'st me cherish,
For torture repay me too well?
Now sad is the garden of roses,
Belovéd but false Haidée!
There Flora all withered reposes,
And mourns o'er thine absence with me.

[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

  1. The song from which this is taken is a great favourite with the young girls of Athens of all classes. Their manner of singing it is by verses in rotation, the whole number present joining in the chorus. I have heard it frequently at our "χόροι" in the winter of 1810-11. The air is plaintive and pretty.