Poem of the day

Lament for Marsyas
by Willa Cather (1873-1947)

Marsyas sleeps. Oh, never wait,
Maidens, by the city gate,
Till he come to plunder gold
Of the daffodils you hold,
Or your branches white with May;
He is whiter gone than they.
He will startle you no more
When along the river shore
Damsels beat the linen clean.
Nor when maidens play at ball
Will he catch it where it fall:
Though ye wait for him and call
He will answer not, I ween.

Happy Earth to hold him so,
Still and satisfied and low,
Giving him his will—ah more
Than a woman could before!
Still forever holding up
To his parted lips the cup
Which hath eased him, when to bless
All who loved where powerless.
Ah! for that too-lovely head,
Low among the laureled dead,
Many a rose earth oweth yet;
Many a yellow jonquil brim,
Many a hyacinth dewey-dim,
For the singing breath of him—
Sweeter than the violet.

Marsyas sleeps: Ah! Well-a-day,
He was wise who did not stay
Until hands unworthy bore
Prizes that were his before,
Him the god hath put for long
With the elder choir of song—
They who turned them from the sun
Ere their singing days were done,
Or the lips of praise were chill.
Whether summer come or go,
April bud or winter blow,
He will never heed or know
Underneath the daffodil.

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