First Choral Ode of Bakkhai
his tongue is unbridled,
his reasoning reckless,
his end may be hot and hard.
A life of quiet discretion,
still as a summer day,
keeps the house cool.
Far off in the air live the undying gods
but they watch us.
They watch how far we press our limits:
there is a morning star,
there is an evening star,
don't press too far.
I dream of a perfectly clear afternoon
on the island where Aphrodite sits
counting her blessings
by the erotic sea.
I dream of rivers
with a hundred mouths
where the leaves turn over like silver fire.
Take me there, Dionysos,
some place ruled by the law of desire
where we can dance you and dance you and never tire.
Michigan Quarterly Review Spring 2013
Translation copyright © 2013 by Anne Carson
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission