Seven are the daughters of Pleione,
whose stars bedazzle the winter sky—
most beautiful of all the seven
is Maia, daughter of Atlas.
She it is who rejoices in May flowers’ bloom,
the lengthening days, and the growing warmth.
She makes the heart to quicken
as desire swells in mortals’ souls—
and not in mortals’ alone, but you too,
thundering father Jove, could not resist her.
How did Jove effect his tryst with modest Maia,
dwelling in her cave in wind-swept Arcady?
Let none divulge what passed therein;
let none undo her wise discretion.
But all may know and celebrate her offspring,
glorious child of Maia, swift-footed messenger,
clever in his charming words,
subtle in his wily deeds—
for you, august Mercury, were born on Mount Cyllene,
born to gentle Maia, bedecked with flowers.
She it was first took you in her arms and nursed you:
nourishment from the most nurturing of goddesses.
From her the mischievous babe
learned wisdom as well as wit,
for on your first day, O Mercury, you stole the cattle
of your proud brother, brilliant Apollo of the fearsome darts.
Maia drew you back;
gently she rebuked you,
teaching you justice and reconciliation: and the lyre,
seven-stringed, you made a peace offering to Apollo.
The nurturing mother of that godly nuncio
took Arcas in to foster—glory of Arcadia,
now translated to the stars.
A grandson of blessèd Maia, the wandering Evander,
first planted her worship in the western lands
upon the sainted hill
above the rolling Tiber.
More grandsons of yours, O Maia, the twin Lares
were rightly honoured at every Roman hearth.
Glory of spring, fosterer of growing things,
most exalted of the sister Pleiades,
you I praise:
to you I offer this hymn.
Mountain-dwelling Maia whom Jove adored,
daughter of the strong-shouldered titan,
hail to you in Arcady
and in every land.
Let all who love the god of travellers, Argus’ bane,
rejoice in you and offer pleasing gifts.