Sapphics

By William Faulkner 1897–1962 William Faulkner
So it is: sleep comes not on my eyelids.
Nor in my eyes, with shaken hair and white
Aloof pale hands, and lips and breasts of iron,
   So she beholds me.

And yet though sleep comes not to me, there comes
A vision from the full smooth brow of sleep,
The white Aphrodite moving unbounded
   By her own hair.

In the purple beaks of the doves that draw her,
Beaks straight without desire, necks bent backward
Toward Lesbos and the flying feet of Loves
   Weeping behind her.

She looks not back, she looks not back to where
The nine crowned muses about Apollo
Stand like nine Corinthian columns singing
   In clear evening.

She sees not the Lesbians kissing mouth
To mouth across lute strings, drunken with singing,
Nor the white feet of the Oceanides
   Shining and unsandalled.

Before her go cryings and lamentations
Of barren women, a thunder of wings,
While ghosts of outcast Lethean women, lamenting,
   Stiffen the twilight.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet William Faulkner 1897–1962

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Religion, Other Religions, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism, Greek & Roman Mythology

Poetic Terms Metaphor

 William  Faulkner

Biography

 
One of the 20th century’s greatest novelists, William Cuthbert Falkner, as his name was originally spelled, never graduated from high school. He was born in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons, and moved with his family to Oxford, Mississippi, at the age of five. As a young man, influenced by the work of English poets A.E. Housman and Algernon Charles Swinburne, he began writing poems that explored Romantic themes . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by William Faulkner

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Other Religions, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Metaphor

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.