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Invitation to the dance



Spread the board with linen snow.

Bid ivy and the laurel grow

Over it, and with them twine

The green branches of the vine.

Bring great baskets that shall hold

Cytisus and the marigold,

Cassia and starwort bring

And crocuses, till everything,

Couch and sideboard, all shall be

A garland of perfumery.

Then with balsam-perfumed hand

Smooth disheveled locks; and stand

Frankincense about, to rise —

An Arabian sacrifice —

Smoking to the lofty roof.


Next, let darkness be a proof

That our lamps with day may vie,

Glittering from the chamber’s sky.

Only in their bowls be spilled

Oil nor grease, but have them filled

With such odorous balm as came

From the east to give them flame.

Then bid loaded servants bring

Viands that shall please a king,

Bowing underneath the weight

Of chased silver rich and great.

Last, in bowl and patera

And in caudron mingle a

Portion of Falernian wine

With due nard, while roses shine

Wreathed about the cup and round

The cup’s tripod. We'll confound —

Where the garlands sway in grace

From vase to alabaster vase —

All the measures of the dance;

And our languid limbs shall glance

In a mazy Mænad play.—

Step and voice shall Bacchus sway,

And in garment let each man

Be a Dionysian!




Sidonius Apollinaris

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012