Erinna: "The Distaff"

This fragment by the Greek poetess is part written in sorrow for the death of Baucis, a friend of her girlhood. More poignant in fact is perhaps that Erinna herself was recorded as dying aged only 19.

“From white horses with madcap bound into the deep wave you leapt: "I catch you," I shouted, "my friend!" And you, when you were tortoise, ran leaping through the yard of the great court.

Thus, I lament, unhappy Baucis, and make deep moan for you. These traces of you, dear maid, lie still glowing in my heart: all that we once enjoyed, is embers now.

We clung to our dolls in our chambers when we were girls, playing young wives, without a care. And towards dawn your mother, who allotted wool to her attendant workwomen, came and called you to help with the salted meat. Oh, what a trembling the Bogy brought us then, when we were little ones. On its head were huge ears, and it walked on all fours, and changed from one face to another.

But when you went to a man's bed, you forgot all that you heard from your mother, dear Baucis, in babyhood: Aphrodite set oblivion in your heart. So, I lament you, yet neglect your obsequies, my feet are not so profane as to leave the house, my eyes may not behold a body dead, nor may I moan with hair unbound, yet a blush of shame distracts me.”