Hymn to Apollo

God of the golden face and fiery forehead!
Lord of the Lion’s house of strength, exalted
In the Ram’s horns! O ruler of the vaulted
      Heavenly hollow!
Send out thy rays majestic, and the torrid
Light of thy song! thy countenance most splendid
Bend to the suppliant on his face extended!
      Hear me, Apollo!

Let thy fierce fingers sweep the lyre forgotten!
Recall the ancient glory of thy chanted
Music that thrilled the hearts of men, and haunted
      Life to adore thee!
Cleanse thou our market-places misbegotten!
Fire in my heart and music to my pæan
Lend, that my song bow, past the empyrean,
      Phœbus, before thee!

All the old worship in this land is broken;
Yet on my altar burns the ancient censer,
Frankincense, saffron, galbanum, intenser!
      Ornaments glisten.
Robes of thy colour bind me for thy token.
My voice is fuller in thine adoration.
Thine image holds its god-appointed station.
      Lycian, listen!

My prayers more eloquent than olden chants
Long since grown dumb on the soft forgetful airs—
My lips are loud to herald thee: my prayers
      Keener to follow.
I do aspire, as thy long sunbeam slants
Upon my crown; I do aspire to thee
As no man yet— I am in ecstasy!
      Hear me, Apollo!

My chant wakes elemental flakes of light
Flashing along the sandal-footed floor.
All listening spirits answer and adore
      Thee, the amazing!
I follow to the eagle-baffling sight,
Limitless oceans of abounding space;
Purposed to blind myself, but know thy face,
      Phœbus, in gazing.

O hear me! hear me! hear me! for my hands,
Dews deathly bathe them; sinks the stricken song;
Eyes that were feeble have become the strong,
      See thee and glisten.
Blindness is mine; my spirit understands,
Weighs out the offering, accepts the pain,
Hearing the pæan of the unprofane!
      Lycian, listen!

God of the fiery face, the eyes inviolate!
Lord of soundless thunders, lightnings lightless!
Hear me now, for joy that I see thee sightless,
      Fervent to follow.
Grant one boon; destroy me, let me die elate,
Blasted with light intolerant of a mortal,
That the undying in me pass thy portal!
      Hear me, Apollo.

Hear me, or if about thy courts be girded
Paler some purple softening the sunlight
Merciful, mighty, O divide the one light
      Into a million
Shattered gems, that I mingle in my worded
Measures some woven filament of passion
Caught, Phœbus, from thy star-girt crown, to fashion
      Poet’s pavilion.

Let me build for thee an abiding palace
Rainbow-hued to affirm thy light divided,
Yet where starry words, by thy soul guided,
      Sing as they glisten,
Dew-drops diamonded from the abundant chalice!
Swoons the prayer to silence; pale the altar
Glows at thy presence as the last words falter—
      Lycian, listen!