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Amy Levy: A Greek Girl

Amy Levy

(1861-1889)


A Greek Girl

I may not weep, not weep, and he is dead.

A weary, weary weight of tears unshed

Through the long day in my sad heart I bear;

The horrid sun with all unpitying glare

Shines down into the dreary weaving-room,

Where clangs the ceaseless clatter of the loom,

And ceaselessly deft maiden-fingers weave

The fine-wrought web; and I from morn till eve

Work with the rest, and when folk speak to me

I smile hard smiles; while still continually

The silly stream of maiden speech flows on:–

And now at length they talk of him that’s gone,

Lightly lamenting that he died so soon–

Ah me! ere yet his life’s sun stood at noon.

Some praise his eyes, some deem his body fair,

And some mislike the colour of his hair!

Sweet life, sweet shape, sweet eyes, and sweetest hair,

What form, what hue, save Love’s own, did ye wear?

I may not weep, not weep, for very shame.

 

He loved me not. One summer’s eve he came

To these our halls, my father’s honoured guest,

And seeing me, saw not. If his lips had prest

My lips, but once, in love; his eyes had sent

One love-glance into mine, I had been content,

And deemed it great joy for one little life;

Nor envied other maids the crown of wife:

The long sure years, the merry children-band–

Alas, alas, I never touched his hand!

And now my love is dead that loved not me.

 

Thrice-blest, thrice-crowned, of gods thrice-lovèd she–

That other, fairer maid, who tombward brings

Her gold, shorn locks and piled-up offerings

Of fragrant fruits, rich wines, and spices rare,

And cakes with honey sweet, with saffron fair;

And who, unchecked by any thought of shame,

May weep her tears, and call upon his name,

With burning bosom prest to the cold ground,

Knowing, indeed, that all her life is crown’d,

Thrice-crowned, thrice honoured, with that love of his;–

No dearer crown on earth is there, I wis.

 

While yet the sweet life lived, more light to bear

Was my heart’s hunger; when the morn was fair,

And I with other maidens in a line

Passed singing through the city to the shrine,

Oft in the streets or crowded market-place

I caught swift glimpses of the dear-known face;

Or marked a stalwart shoulder in the throng;

Or heard stray speeches as we passed along,

In tones more dear to me than any song.

These, hoarded up with care, and kept apart,

Did serve as meat and drink my hungry heart.

 

And now for ever has my sweet love gone;

And weary, empty days I must drag on,

Till all the days of all my life be sped,

By no thought cheered, by no hope comforted.

For if indeed we meet among the shades,

How shall he know me from the other maids?–

Me, that had died to save his body pain!

 

Alas, alas, such idle thoughts are vain!

O cruel, cruel sunlight, get thee gone!

O dear, dim shades of eve, come swiftly on!

That when quick lips, keen eyes, are closed in sleep,

Through the long night till dawn I then may weep.


Amy Levy poetry

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