No other girl, by Michael Field

Alexei Harlamoff
Alexei Harlamoff – from

I present here my second selection from the collection Long Ago published in 1889 by Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper under the pen name Michael Field. Addressed to a young man, the poem praises his future bride, a most lovely girl, there could not be a better choice.

Οὐ γὰρ ἦν ἐτέρα πάϊς, ὦ γάμβρε, τοιαύτα·

NO other girl—O bridegroom, thou art right—
Is like to thine;
The snowiest swan gives not such keen delight,
Sailing in shine
Of spacious Asian mere, as she
Moving in her simplicity.

No other girl is like her; is she cold—
So sweet and dumb?
Nay, Aphrodite’s handmaid bright as gold
Shall she become,
And thou shalt hear her honeyed voice
Summon thee softly to rejoice.

She has been kept for thee, I know not how;
As, undescried,
A blushing apple on the topmost bough,
Heaven kept thy bride
A fragrant, rare, inviolate thing
For season of thy cherishing.

Clasp the belovèd form, a golden flower
Pliant and frail;
Kiss the dropt eyelids till Love’s genial power
The eyes unveil,
And Cleïs lift to thee the grace,
Candour, and gladness of her face.

She knows thy wedding comes to thy desire;
She will secure
From winds that buffet thee, from storms that tire,
A haven sure;
And, inexperienced in ill,
Keep from thy breast the thoughts that kill.

There is none like her, like thy girl, thine own;
And, bridegroom, see!
Honouring Hera of the silver throne,
She turns to thee.
Sappho, with solitary eyes, afar
Will watch the rising of eve’s fairest star.

Sources of the poem:: Long Ago (English edition), George Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden (1889); its digitisation can be seen on Baylor University digital collections, and it has been transcribed by Dickinson College, the poem can be seen here. A digitisation of the 1897 American edition (by Thomas B. Mosher, Portland, Maine) can be seen on issuu.

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