Softly the first step of twilight


Softly the first step of twilight
Falls on the darkening dial,
One by one kindle the lights
  In Mitylene.

Noises are hushed in the courtyard,
The busy day is departing,
Children are called from their games,
  Herds from their grazing.

And from the deep-shadowed angles
Comes the soft murmur of lovers,
Then through the quiet of dusk
  Bright sudden laughter.

From the hushed street, through the portal,
Where soon my lover will enter,
Comes the pure strain of a flute
  Tender with passion.

Translated by Bliss Carman. Mitylene is the capital of Lesbos, home of Sappho.