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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Greece: Naxos, the Island

Ariadne at Naxos

By Thomas Davidson (1838–1870)

HIGH upon the Hill of Drios,

As the day began to waken,

All alone sat Ariadne,

Watching, weary, and forsaken:

With her dark dishevelled tresses

Dank with dewdrops of the night,

And her face all wan and haggard,

Still she waited on the height:

Watching, praying that the morning

Might reveal her love returning,

Swiftly o’er the quivering water;

To the lonely isle returning,

And the king’s deserted daughter.

From her couch of orient forests,

From the chamber of her rest,

Came, with queenly step, the Morning,

Journeying onward to the west:

And the glory of her presence

Tinged the sea and filled the air,

Smote the lofty Hill of Drios,

And the lonely watcher there;

Yet no bark across the water

Came to lighten her despair.

But with sighing of the pine-trees,

By the low wind gently shaken,

All day long in mournful snatches

Rose the plaint of Ariadne,

Watching, weary, and forsaken.

“In vain! in vain! The seventh bright day

Is breaking o’er yon eastern land,

That mid the light, a long dark band,

Lies dim and shadowy far away;

And still from morn till eve I ’ve scanned

That weary sea from strand to strand,

To mark his sail against the spray.

In vain! in vain! The morning ray

Shows not his bark mid all the seas,

Though I may trace from where I stand

All the flowery Cyclades.

“Seven days! But O, how tardily

Those lonely hours have crept away!

And yet it seems but yesterday

That, sailing o’er the Cretan Sea,

I watched the melting shadows gray,

And hailed the dawn as emblem gay

Of all the rapture yet to be,

When I with him should wander free,

Through fair Ilissus’ bowers of green.

But now my love has gone for aye,

And I am left alone alway,

To brood o’er all that might have been!

“O, had I to the shadows passed,

Before the dark-eyed stranger came

To light with love the fatal flame

That aye will burn within my breast!

The maids of Crete had named my name,

Nor thought of love, nor yet of shame,

But of a sister pure and chaste,

In death’s cold arms untimely pressed,

And all from joy and sorrow reft:

He might have lived his life of fame,

And I had ne’er been loved and left.

“Or had the North Wind woke from sleep,

As with our dark sails all outspread,

Across the southern wave we fled,—

Down in the great sea’s twilight deep,

Some silent grot had been our bed,

Where many a long-haired Nereid,

With ocean-flowers all garlanded,

Had knelt by our low couch to weep:

But softly o’er the brine the breeze did creep,

Bearing us all too gently on our way;

While I of strong Poseidon prayed

To guard the life I mourn to-day!

“Ye memories of days gone by

Ere clouds of woe began to lower,

When life stretched all so bright before,

And love was warm and hope was high;

Of moonlight nights beside the shore,

When by the infinite heaven he swore,

And every star that gemmed it o’er,

That love like his could never die:

Unbidden guests of mine adversity!

Dead hopes and haunting memories of the past,

That cling about my heart forevermore,

O, to forget you all, and die and be at rest!

“For rest alone awaiteth me

Beyond death’s portal dark and grim,

Where Nature whispers that I soon shall be;

For robes of rest I cannot see

Seem folding round each languid limb;

My weary eyes are waxing dim,

Scarce may I hear the evening hymn

The birds are chanting joyously:—

But O, for one more glimpse of thee,

Theseus! before mine eyelids sink for aye,—

Or of thy sail beneath the westering day,

O’er the horizon’s utmost rim,

Looming far away!”

Darkness o’er land and sea resumed her sway;

The fair moon rose, dispensing silvery light;

And softly fell the tears of mother Night

O’er the outwearied watcher where she lay,

Till in the orient dawned again the Day,

And all for joy o’er his triumphant birth

Arose the hymnéd praises of the Earth:

The River murmured, rolling on his way;

The wind-swept forest sighed, and carols gay

The wild bird lilted from the dewy brake,—

But Ariadne sleeps, and nevermore shall wake!