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Alice Cary

(1820-1871 / USA)

Hyala


Low by the reedy sea went ancient Ops,
Tracking for crownless Saturn: quietly
From her gray hair waned off the sober light,
For Eve, that Cyclops of the burning eye,
Slow pacing down the slumberous hills, was gone.
Under the black boughs of a cedarn wood,
Weary of hunting, Dian lay asleep,
Kissed by the amorous winds. Close to her feet,
Cropping the scant ambrosia, Io came,
Her slender neck hung round with modest bells
Of asphodel, the gift of Jupiter,
Who, for the jealous love that Juno had,
Made her the milk-white heifer that she was.
So slept the huntress, while, hard by the wood
Where the slant sunset lay in crimson gores
Athwart the dimness, that most chaste of maids
Whom Dian loved, cold-bosomed Hyala,
Stood leaning on her slack bow, all alone -
Her forehead smooth as ice, and ivy-bound,
And in her girdle of blue hyacinths
Three sharpest arrows.

All unconsciously,
Tripping barefooted through the violets,
Idalia, fairest shepherdess of all -
In her white hands her silver milking-bowl,
And on her lip the music of a heart
Hungry for love - crossed the near field, her song
Sweetly dividing the blue silent air:
'O fair Scamander, bed of loveliness,
When wilt thou give my naked limbs to lie
Among thy marriage pillows, white as foam!'
In the pale cheek of Hyala burned out
An angry color, as she saw her sit
Singing and milking in her silver bowl.
One lily shoulder, under rippling lengths
Of dropping tresses, pressing light the flank
Of a plump goat, with eyes as black as sloe,
And hoofs of pinky silver, dimpling deep
The wild green turf thick-sprouting on a ridge
That topt a flowery slope in Thessaly.
Scorn curled the lip of listening Hyala,
And drawing from her belt the nimblest shaft,
Straight from her steady hand it sped and sunk
Deep in the forehead of the harmless beast,
That moaning fell, and bled into the grass:
So Hyala went laughing on her way.

Submitted: Friday, April 11, 2014

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