Distaff, blithely whirling distaff, azure-eyed Athena's gift
To the sex the aim and object of whose lives is household thrift,
Seek with me the gorgeous city raised by Neilus, where a plain
Roof of pale-green rush o'er-arches Aphrodite's hallowed fane.
Thither ask I Zeus to waft me, fain to see my old friend's face,
Nicias, o'er whose birth presided every passion-breathing Grace;
Fain to meet his answering welcome; and anon deposit thee
In his lady's hands, thou marvel of laborious ivory.
Many a manly robe ye'll fashion, much translucent maiden's gear;
Nay, should e'er the fleecy mothers twice within the selfsame year
Yield their wool in yonder pasture, Theugenis of the dainty feet
Would perform the double labour: matron's cares to her are sweet.
To an idler or a trifler I had verily been loth
To resign thee, O my distaff, for the same land bred us both:
In the land Corinthian Archias built aforetime, thou hadst birth,
In our island's core and marrow, whence have sprung the kings of earth:
To the home I now transfer thee of a man who knows full well
Every craft whereby men's bodies dire diseases may repel:
There to live in sweet Miletus. Lady of the Distaff she
Shall be named, and oft reminded of her poet-friend by thee:
Men shall look on thee and murmur to each other, 'Lo! how small
Was the gift, and yet how precious! Friendship's gifts are priceless all.'
Last updated January 14, 2019