Espere panta pherôn, osa phainolis eskedas Auôs,
Phereis aiga, phereis oïn, phereis apu mâteri paida.

This is the Lesbian (Aeolian) text of the above fragment by Sappho, an inspiration to poets of all ages, and which differs from the Attic (the standard form of classical Greek) in several respects:

The Evening Star

Lo! in the painted oriel of the West,
Whose panes the sunken sun incarnadines,
Like a fair lady at her casement, shines
The evening star, the star of love and rest!
And then anon she doth herself divest
Of all her radiant garments, and reclines
Behind the sombre screen of yonder pines,
With slumber and soft dreams of love oppressed.

O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus!

My morning and my evening star of love!
My best and gentlest lady! even thus,
As that fair planet in the sky above,
Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night,
And from thy darkened window fades the light.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

The composition date of this poem is known because Henry Wadsworth Longfellow made note of it in his journal entry for October 30, 1845:
    The Indian Summer still in its glory. Wrote the sonnet Hesperus in the rustic seat of the old apple-tree.

It was first published in The Belfry of Bruges (1845). Since it was written 155 years ago some of the words might give cause to wonder so here is a list with some brief definitions:

  • oriel: A large specific type of bay window one that protrudes out from the plane of the wall.
  • incarnadines: means to redden or blush.
  • casement: Is a referent to the bay window The "lady at the casement" is his wife looking out .
  • anon: Today it means soon but, the archaic form meant immediately.
  • Hesperus: Is of course the evening star or a star that rises before midnight which is usually Venus.
The "best and gentlest lady" of the poem is Longfellow's wife, and this is the only poem Longfellow wrote about her during her life. Eminently, Longfellow is the poet of the domestic affections and the poet of the household, research has left me unable to tell if it was his first wife or second to whom this poem is addressed. Few men had known deeper sorrow; his first wife having died in Holland, in 1835; his second wife having been burned to death in 1861, by her clothes taking fire accidentally while she was playing with the children. Still it's a wonderful sonnet with its pure and imperishable melody; the song of one such nightingale of literature.


Blair, Bob:

Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:

RPO -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow : The Evening Star:

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