Winter at Delphi

by Willa Cather (1903)

Cold are the stars of the night,
    Wild is the tempest crying,
Fast through the velvet dark
    Little white flakes are flying.
Still is the House of Song,
    But the fire on the hearth is burning;
And the lamps are trimmed and the cup
    Is full for his day of returning.
His watchers are fallen asleep,
    They wait but his call to follow,
Ay, to the ends of the earth—
    But Apollo, the god, Apollo?

Sick is the heart in my breast,
    Mine eyes are blinded with weeping;
The god who never comes back,
    The watch that forever is keeping.
Service of gods is hard;
    Deep lies the snow on my pillow.
For him the laurel and song,
    Weeping for me and the willow:
Empty my arms and cold
    As the nest forgot of the swallow:
Birds will come back with the spring,—
    But Apollo, the god, Apollo?

Hope will come back with the spring,
    Joy with the lark's returning;
Love must awake betimes,
    When crocus buds are a-burning.
Hawthorns will follow the snow,
    The robin his tryst be keeping;
Winds will blow in the May,
    Waking the pulses a-sleeping.
Snowdrops will whiten the hills,
    Violets hide in the hollow:
Pan will be drunken and rage—
    But Apollo, the god, Apollo?

Monadnock Valley Press > Cather