Doricha

(1977)

"Doricha" is the seventh song in Frank Lewin's Variations of Greek Themes.

It describes the fate of the courtesan for whom Sappho's brother, Charaxus, is said to have sacrificed his fortune. The sonnet rises three times from a description of the barren present to images of a luxuriant past; on the third, and highest, ascent its music merges into the last song.

Doricha (Posidippus)
by Edwin Arlington Robinson


So now the very bones of you are gone\t
Where they were dust and ashes long ago;\t
And there was the last ribbon you tied on\t
To bind your hair, and that is dust also;\t
And somewhere there is dust that was of old
A soft and scented garment that you wore—\t
The same that once till dawn did closely fold\t
You in with fair Charaxus, fair no more.\t

But Sappho, and the white leaves of her song,\t
Will make your name a word for all to learn,
And all to love thereafter, even while\t
It’s but a name; and this will be as long\t
As there are distant ships that will return\t
Again to your Naucratis and the Nile.


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