The Blind FLower Girl
( Originally Published early 20th century )
Just where the porticoes of a light and graceful temple threw their shade stood a young girl. She had a flower basket on her right arm and in her left hand a small three-stringed lyre, to whose low tones she was singing a wild and half-barbaric air. At every pause in the music she lifted her flower basket, inviting the people to buy. Many a coin was dropped into the basket, either in compliment to the music or in pity of the singer, for she was blind.
" It is my poor Thessalian," said Glaucus to a friend who was walking with him; " I have not seen her since my return to Pompeii. Hush! her voice is sweet; let us listen."
Buy my flowers—0 buy — I pray ! The blind girl comes from afar ; If the earth be as fair as I hear them say, These flowers her children are ! Do they her beauty keep ? They are fresh from her lap, I know; For I caught them fast asleep In her arms an hour ago, With the air which is her breath Her soft and delicate breath Over them murmuring low ! On their lips her sweet kiss lingers yet,
And their cheeks with her tender tears are wet. For she weeps — that gentle mother weeps — (As morn and night her watch she keeps, With a yearning heart and a passionate care) To see the young things grow so fair; She weeps —for love she weeps ; And the dews are the tears she weeps, From the well of a mother's love !
" I must have a bunch of violets, Nydia," said Glaucus, pressing through the crowd and dropping a handful of small coins in her basket.
The blind girl started forward. " So you are returned," she said in a soft voice; "Glaucus is returned."
" Yes, child, I have been in Pompeii but a few days. My garden wants your care ; you will visit it, I trust, tomorrow. No hands but those of Nydia shall wind any garlands for my house."
The blind girl smiled, but did not answer.
" So she is a client of yours," said Glaucus's friend, as they went away.
" Yes. Does she not sing prettily? She interests me, the poor slave ! Besides, she is from the land of Olympus; she is of Thessaly."
Adapted from " The Last Days of Pompeii "
Thessalian (the sa li an): one born in Thessaly (thes'a ii), a section of Greece. — Nydia (nid'i a). — client (kli ent): a person in ancient Rome who was under the protection of another of superior rank and influence. —Bodenhausen (bo'den hou'zen).