Ready for death he stood, but lo! the air Grew silent, and the horses ceased to neigh, And off his brow he tossed the clustering hair, And from his limbs he throw the cloak away; For whom would not such love make desperate? And nigher came, and touched her throat, and with hands violate
Undid the cuirass, and the crocus gown, And bared the breasts of polished ivory, Till from the waist the peplos falling down Left visible the secret mystery Which to no lover will Athena show, The grand cool flanks, the crescent thighs, the bossy hills of snow.
Those who have never known a lover's sin Let them not read my ditty, it will be To their dull ears so musicless and thin That they will have no joy of it, but ye To whose wan cheeks now creeps the lingering smile, Ye who have learned who Eros is, - O listen yet awhile.
A little space he let his greedy eyes Rest on the burnished image, till mere sight Half swooned for surfeit of such luxuries, And then his lips in hungering delight Fed on her lips, and round the towered neck He flung his arms, nor cared at all his passion's will to check.
Never I ween did lover hold such tryst, For all night long he murmured honeyed word, And saw her sweet unravished limbs, and kissed Her pale and argent body undisturbed, And paddled with the polished throat, and pressed His hot and beating heart upon her chill and icy breast.
It was as if Numidian javelins Pierced through and through his wild and whirling brain, And his nerves thrilled like throbbing violins In exquisite pulsation, and the pain Was such sweet anguish that he never drew His lips from hers till overhead the lark of warning flew.
They who have never seen the daylight peer Into a darkened room, and drawn the curtain, And with dull eyes and wearied from some dear And worshipped body risen, they for certain Will never know of what I try to sing, How long the last kiss was, how fond and late his lingering.
The moon was girdled with a crystal rim, The sign which shipmen say is ominous Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim, And the low lightening east was tremulous With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn, Ere from the silent sombre shrine his lover had withdrawn.