The Lament for Adonis

Woe, woe for Adonis, he has perished, the beauteous Adonis, dead is the beauteous Adonis, the Loves join in the lament. No more in your purple raiment, Cypris [Aphropdite], do you sleep; arise, you wretched one, sable-stoled, and beat your breasts, and say to all, 'He has perished, the lovely Adonis!'

Woe, woe for Adonis, the Loves join in the lament!

Low on the hills is lying the lovely Adonis, and his thigh with the boar's tusk, his white thigh with the boar's tusk is wounded, and sorrow on Cypris he brings, as softly he breathes his life away.

His dark blood drips down his skin of snow, beneath his brows his eyes wax heavy and dim, and the rose flees from his lip, and thereon the very kiss is dying, the kiss that Cypris will never forego.

To Cypris his kiss is dear, though he lives no longer, but Adonis knew not that she kissed him as he died.

Woe, woe for Adonis, the Loves join in the lament!

A cruel, cruel wound on his thigh has Adonis, but a deeper wound in her heart does Cytherea bear. About him his dear hounds are loudly baying, and the nymphs of the wild wood wail him; but Aphrodite with unbound locks through the glades goes wandering,-- wretched, with hair unbraided, with feet unsandaled, and the thorns as she passes wound her and pluck the blossom of her sacred blood. Shrill she wails as down the long woodlands she is borne, lamenting her Assyrian lord, and again calling him, and again. But round his navel the dark blood leapt forth, with blood from his thighs his chest was scarlet, and beneath Adonis's breast, the spaces that before were snow-white, were purple with blood.

Woe, woe for Cytherea, the Loves join in the lament!

She has lost her lovely lord, with him she has lost her sacred beauty. Fair was the form of Cypris, while Adonis was living, but her beauty has died with Adonis! Woe, woe for Cypris, the mountains all are saying, and the oak-trees answer, Woe for Adonis. And the rivers bewail the sorrows of Aphrodite, and the wells are weeping Adonis on the mountains. The flowers flush red for anguish, and Cytherea through all the mountain-knees, through every dell does shrill the piteous dirge.

Woe, woe for Cytherea, he has perished, the lovely Adonis!

And Echo cried in answer, He has perished, the lovely Adonis. No, who but would have lamented the grievous love of Cypris? When she saw, when she marked the unstaunched wounds of Adonis, when she saw the bright red blood about his languid thigh, she cast her arms abroad and moaned, 'Abide with me, Adonis, hapless Adonis abide, that this last time of all I may possess you, that I may cast myself about you, and lips with lips may mingle. Awake, Adonis, for a little while, and kiss me yet again, the latest kiss! No kiss me but a moment, but the lifetime of a kiss, till from your inmost soul into my lips, into my heart, your life-breath ebb, and till I drain your sweet love-potion, and drink down all your love. This kiss will I treasure, even as yourself, Adonis, since, ah ill-fated, you are fleeing me, you are fleeing far, Adonis, and are faring to Acheron, to that hateful king and cruel, while wretched I yet live, being a goddess, and may not follow you! Persephone, take you my lover, my lord, for your self are stronger than I, and all lovely things drift down to you. But I am ill-fated, inconsolable is my anguish, and I lament my Adonis, dead to me, and I have no rest for sorrow.

'You die, O thrice-desired, and my desire has flown away as a dream. No, widowed is Cytherea, and idle are the Loves along the halls! With you has the girdle of my beauty perished. For why, ah overbold, did you follow the chase, and being so fair, why were you thus overhardy to fight with beasts?'

So Cypris bewailed her, the Loves join in the lament:

Woe, woe for Cytherea, he has perished, the lovely Adonis!

A tear the Paphian sheds for each blood-drop of Adonis, and tears and blood on the earth are turned to flowers. The blood brings forth the rose, the tears, the wind-flower.

Woe, woe for Adonis, he has perished, the lovely Adonis!

No more in the oak-woods, Cypris, lament your lord. It is no fair couch for Adonis, the lonely bed of leaves! Your own bed, Cytherea, let him now possess,-- the dead Adonis. Ah, even in death he is beautiful, beautiful in death, as one that has fallen on sleep. Now lay him down to sleep in his own soft coverlets, wherein with you through the night he shared the holy slumber in a couch all of gold, that yearns for Adonis, though sad is he to look upon. Cast on him garlands and blossoms: all things have perished in his death, yes all the flowers are faded. Sprinkle him with ointments of Syria, sprinkle him with unguents of myrrh. No, perish all perfumes, for Adonis, who was your perfume, has perished.

He reclines, the delicate Adonis, in his raiment of purple, and around him the Loves are weeping, and groaning aloud, clipping their locks for Adonis. And one upon his shafts, another on his bow is treading, and one has loosed the sandal of Adonis, and another has broken his own feathered quiver, and one in a golden vessel bears water, and another washes the wound, and another from behind him with his wings is fanning Adonis.

Woe, woe for Cytherea, the Loves join in the lament!

Every torch on the lintels of the door has Hymenaeus quenched, and has torn to shreds the bridal crown, and Hymen no more, Hymen no more is the song, but a new song is sung of wailing.

'Woe, woe for Adonis,' rather than the nuptial song the Graces are shrilling, lamenting the son of Cinyras, and one to the other declaring, He has perished, the lovely Adonis.

And woe, woe for Adonis, shrilly cry the Muses, neglecting Paeon, and they lament Adonis aloud, and songs they chant to him, but he does not heed them, not that he is unwilling to hear, but that the Maiden of Hades does not let him go.

Cease, Cytherea, from your lamentations, to-day refrain from your dirges. You must again bewail him, again must weep for him another year.

Holy, Holy, HolyThe Philo LibraryHypatia's Bookshelf