by: Algernon Charles Swinburne
- LOVE! what
shall be said of thee?
- The son of grief begot by joy?
- Being sightless, wilt thou see?
- Being sexless, wilt thou be
- Maiden or boy?
- I dreamed of strange lips yesterday
- And cheeks wherein the ambiguous blood
- Was like a rose's--yea,
- A rose's when it lay
- Within the bud.
- What fields have bred thee, or what groves
- Concealed thee, O mysterious flower,
- O double rose of Love's,
- With leaves that lure the doves
- From bud to bower?
- I dare not kiss it, lest my lip
- Press harder than an indrawn breath,
- And all the sweet life slip
- Forth, and the sweet leaves drip,
- Bloodlike, in death.
- O sole desire of my delight!
- O sole delight of my desire!
- Mine eyelids and eyesight
- Feed on thee day and night
- Like lips of fire.
- Lean back thy throat of carven pearl,
- Lest thy mouth murmur like the dove's;
- Say, Venus hath no girl,
- No front of female curl,
- Among her Loves.
- Thy sweet low bosom, thy close hair,
- Thy straight soft flanks and slenderer feet,
- Thy virginal strange air,
- Are these not over fair
- For Love to greet?
- How should he greet thee? what new name,
- Fit to move all men's hearts, could move
- Thee, deaf to love or shame,
- Love's sister, by the same
- Mother as Love?
- Ah sweet, the maiden's mouth is cold,
- Her breast-blossoms are simply red,
- Her hair mere brown or gold,
- Fold over simple fold
- Binding her head.
- Thy mouth is made of fire and wine,
- They barren bosom takes my kiss
- And turns my soul to thine
- And turns thy lip to mine,
- And mine it is.
- Thou hast a serpent in thine hair,
- In all the curls that close and cling;
- And ah, thy breast-flower!
- Ah love, thy mouth too fair
- To kiss and sting!
- Cleave to me, love me, kiss mine eyes,
- Satiate thy lips with loving me;
- Nay, for thou shalt not rise;
- Lie still as Love that dies
- For love of thee.
- Mine arms are close about thine head,
- My lips are fervent on thy face,
- And where my kiss hath fed
- Thy flower-like blood leaps red
- To the kissed place.
- O bitterness of things too sweet
- O broken singing of the dove!
- Love's wings are over fleet,
- And like the panther's feet
- The feet of Love.
MORE POEMS BY ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE
"Fragoletta" is reprinted
from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New York: Crown