Nicholas Michell

Isle of Apelles! Cos, the rich, the fair!
While Time thy granite city deigns to spare,
Lives not one piece of all thy painter drew?
Phryne's fine form, Campaspa's eyes of blue?
Is Philip dust? — doth Venus glow no more,
Wafted by nymphs to Cyprus' myrtled shore?*
Alas! thy master's heaven-descended art
Hath left no trace — so brightest things depart:
Apelles' works have shrunk into a name,
An idle echo voiced by doubtful fame;
But Julis' wrecks still line the storied strand,
And speak this hour of all that's fair and grand.
The massive walls, the pillars of yon shrine,
Breathe Titan strength, yet grace in every line;

High on the ridge that breezy billows kiss
Gleams o'er the surge the bold Acropolis.
No ruins rival these through Graecia's isles;
They wear not frowns, but Beauty's softest smiles.
It seems as though that sage who here had birth,*
The mighty healer, once renowned through earth,
Had breathed a spell on Julis' towers of gray,
Strengthening their strength, arresting e'en decay.

Cos! famed of yore for black-eyed loveliest maids,
Who walked in white, their hair in silken braids,
As now the summer sunlight glistening falls
On grass-grown streets, and sites of royal halls,
Full many a glowing form to Fancy's eye
Leans in the shade, or graceful wanders by;
The thin gauze veil, a cloud around her thrown,
Reveals a brow — such Phidias carved in stone —
A dimpling cheek, a sweet vermilion lip,
Where warm Anacreon's bee might nectar sip;
Blue is her girdle, loose her jetty curls
Fall o'er her arms, bedecked with costly pearls.
And thus she moves, her beauty shedding light,
Than morn's more soft, than eve's more purely bright, —
All that bards, sculptors, dream of forms above,
A thing of grace, of poetry, and love.

Author's Notes:

Apelles: the Raphael of classic times, was a native of the island of Cos, the modern Zia; be drew several portraits of King Philip of Macedon ; but all his superb paintings were thrown into the shade by his Venus Anadyomene ; it represented the birth of that goddess at the moment when she is supposed to be rising from the waves, attended by all the marine deities. This picture, when three cen turies old and much decayed, was bought (says Pliny) by the Em peror Augustus.

The sage is Hippocrates, the physician and the source of modern doctors' "Hippocratic oath".