A Fountain near Thalamai


The water from this spring runs babbling down;
— To hear it by moonlight still, they say, is best —
But always gives a gabbling, garbled song.
Two goddesses here contend and both are strong:
Sad Pasiphae yearns to be a moon-crowned beast
And Ino mourns no less the Theban crown.

One Aphrodite loathed and one she saved;
Both shared the enchanted whiteness of the moon;
Both were moon-crazed and both were driven here
By an implacable fate: one from the sheer
Cliff leaping with her new-born child, and one
By hopeless and unnatural love enslaved.

And yet these waters prophesy. At night
Travellers whose hearts are troubled or minds bemused
Come to the spring and make their pleas and sleep
Till Ino’s scream comes hurtling from the steep
With the lost moon-child’s wailing all confused
And broken words that mock their human plight.

Waking, the suppliants wash and, fasting, pray
And pour libations on that holy ground
To each of those two crazed divinities
Whose oracle in a dream has brought release
From guilt or grief; then, from their cares unbound,
In calm and deep content each goes his way.

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