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

Greece: Delos, the Island


By Callimachus (c. 310–240 B.C.)

(From Hymn to Delos)
Translated by H. W. Tytler

O WHEN, my soul, wilt thou resound the praise

Of Delos, nurse to Phœbus’ infant days,

Or of the Cyclades? Most sacred these

Of isles, that rise amid surrounding seas;

And fame and hymns divine to them belong:

But Delos chief demands the Muse’s song;

For there the god who leads the vocal train

Was swathed around; and on the Delian plain

His infant limbs were washed: the sacred lay

Triumphant rose to hail the God of day.

As who forgets Pimplea, the divine,

Is soon forsaken by the tuneful Nine;

Thus on the bard, neglecting Cynthus’ shores,

Avenging Phœbus all his fury pours:

To Delos then let votive lays belong,

And Cynthian Phœbus will approve my song.

Though beat by billows, and though vexed with storms,

The sacred isle its deep foundations forms

Unshook by winds, uninjured by the deep.

High o’er the waves appears the Cynthian steep;

And from the flood the sea-mew bends his course

O’er cliffs impervious to the swiftest horse:

Around the rocks the Icarian surges roar,

Collect new foam, and whiten all the shore

Beneath the lonely caves, and breezy plain

Where fishers dwelt of old above the main.

No wonder Delos, first in rank, is placed

Amid the sister isles on ocean’s breast.