by: Euripides

      AIR by thy speed, Sidonian ship!
      Thine oars, familiar to the oarsman's grip,
      Fall fast, and make the surges bound,
      And lead along the dolphin train,
      While all around
      The winds forego to vex the main,
      And the mariners hear
      The sea-king's daughter calling clear,
      "Now, sails to the breeze, fling out, fling out,
      Now pull, strong arms, to the cheering shout;
      Speed royal Helen, away and away,
      To Argos home, to the royal bay."
      What sacred hour, what festal tide
      Shall bring fair Helen to Eurotas' side?
      Say, shall the Spartan maidens dance
      Before Leucippis then? Or meet
      That day perchance
      At Pallas' gate? Or shall they greet
      Thee, lost so long,
      With lost Hyacinthus' nightly song,
      How Phoebus slew him with quoit far-flown,
      And yearly the maidens with mourning atone?
      There is one of them, Helen, one fair of the fair,
      Who will not be wife till her mother be there!
      O for wings to fly
      Where the flocks of fowl together
      Quit the Afric sky,
      Late their refuge from the wintry weather!
      All the way with solemn sound
      Rings the leader's clarion cry
      O'er dewless deserts and glad harvest ground.
      We would bid them, as they go,
      Neck by neck against the cloud
      Racing nightly 'neath the stars,
      When Eurotas rolls below,
      Light and leave a message loud,
      How princely Menelaus, proud
      With conquest, cometh from the Dardan wars.
      Come, eternal Pair [1],
      Come, Twin Brethren, from your heaven ascended;
      Down the steep of air
      Drive, by many a starry glance attended!
      'Mid the waters white and blue,
      'Mid the rolling waves be there,
      And brotherly bring safe your sister through.
      Airs from heaven, serene and pure,
      Breathe upon her; bless and speed;
      Breathe away her cruel shame!
      Never he did Paris lure,
      Never won her (as they rede)
      Of Aphrodite for his meed,
      Nor thither led, where never yet she came!

1 Castor and Pollux, brothers of Helen, set in the heavens as the constellation of the Twins and supposed to be propitious to mariners.

This English translation, by Arthur Woolgar Verrall, of 'Helen's Return to Greece' is reprinted from Greek Poets in English Verse. Ed. William Hyde Appleton. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1893.




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