The moon has set – Sappho

The moon has set
The Pleiades have gone to bed.
In the middle of the night
The hours pass by, and I
Lie alone

The Pleiades (1885) by the Symbolist painter Elihu Vedder
The Pleiades (1885) by the Symbolist painter Elihu Vedder

We long to know
The poet, the girl, the woman,
Who no longer lives, but

Who wrote these words
One sleepless night
Some 2,500 years ago
Was it November
When the Pleiades shone from dusk to dawn

Was the moon still shining
Was she pining for her lover
Away at sea sailing homeward bound
Or was it for her sisters
On the isle of Lesbos

We lust to know
But all we have
Are her words
Of tenderness
And loss

In astronomy, the Pleiades  (Seven Sisters) is an open star cluster in the constellation Taurus. It is one of the nearest star clusters and the one most visible to the eye at night. In Greek mythology, the Seven Sisters were companions of Artemis, and the seven daughters of Atlas, the Titan who held the heavens on his shoulder and the sea-nymph Pleione.

The Greeks navigated the Mediterranean by visual observation of the sun and the stars. The winter navigation season began with the heliacal rising of the Pleiades, and, thus, ended with its setting. November is often called the month of the Pleiades, because the seven stars of the cluster shine from dusk until dawn.

Pleiades, Wikipedia, Stas1995
Pleiades, Wikipedia, Stas1995, the star cluster, Pleiades, is in the top left corner of the image

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