The Wood Nymph

Sometimes when I am working
In the forest clearing brush from
The hemlocks, a wood nymph approaches
Walking her two small dogs.
Soft-footed and undulant she glides
Through the trees, a figure of grace,
A nymph of surpassing beauty.
Sometimes in her passage she’ll stop
To greet me. Xaire, she says, xaire
Broté; greetings to you, mortal man.
Clear-voiced, she speaks as if
She were singing. She tells of
The spirits that inhabit the marshes.
She is the guardian of those who
Live in bogs and wetlands.
She knows their natures and their
Histories. Formosa et docta est,
Fair of form and learned:
She never identifies herself
But I think she may be Melissa
of Kalymnos, the child of Athena
By a mortal named Euclidon; she
Was renowned for her singing.