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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Asia Minor: Rhodes, the Island

The Song of the Swallow

By From the Greek

  • Anonymous translation
  • At Rhodes children greeted the swallow, as herald of the spring, in a little song. Troops of them, carrying about a swallow, sang this from door to door, collecting provisions in return.

  • THE SWALLOW is come!

    The swallow is come!

    O, fair are the seasons, and light

    Are the days, that she brings

    With her dusky wings,

    And her bosom snowy white.

    And wilt thou not dole

    From the wealth that is thine,

    The fig and the bowl

    Of rosy wine,

    And the wheaten meal, and the basket of cheese,

    And the omelet cake, which is known to please

    The swallow, that comes to the Rhodian land?

    Say, must we be gone with an empty hand,

    Or shall we receive

    The gift that we crave?

    If thou give, it is well;

    But beware, if thou fail,

    Nor hope that we ’ll leave thee,

    Of all we ’ll bereave thee.

    We ’ll bear off the door,

    Or its posts from the floor,

    Or we ’ll seize thy young wife who is sitting within,

    Whose form is so airy, so light, and so thin,

    And as lightly, be sure, will we bear her away.

    Then look that thy gift be ample to-day,

    And open the door, open the door,

    To the swallow open the door!

    No graybeards are we

    To be foiled in our glee,

    But boys, who will have our will

    This day,

    But boys, who will have our will.