So with soft hands she laid the boy and girl In the great golden waggon tenderly (Her white throat whiter than a moony pearl Just threaded with a blue vein's tapestry Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous unrest)
And then each pigeon spread its milky van, The bright car soared into the dawning sky, And like a cloud the aerial caravan Passed over the AEgean silently, Till the faint air was troubled with the song From the wan mouths that call on bleeding Thammuz all night long.
But when the doves had reached their wonted goal Where the wide stair of orbed marble dips Its snows into the sea, her fluttering soul Just shook the trembling petals of her lips And passed into the void, and Venus knew That one fair maid the less would walk amid her retinue,
And bade her servants carve a cedar chest With all the wonder of this history, Within whose scented womb their limbs should rest Where olive-trees make tender the blue sky On the low hills of Paphos, and the Faun Pipes in the noonday, and the nightingale sings on till dawn.
Nor failed they to obey her hest, and ere The morning bee had stung the daffodil With tiny fretful spear, or from its lair The waking stag had leapt across the rill And roused the ouzel, or the lizard crept Athwart the sunny rock, beneath the grass their bodies slept.
And when day brake, within that silver shrine Fed by the flames of cressets tremulous, Queen Venus knelt and prayed to Proserpine That she whose beauty made Death amorous Should beg a guerdon from her pallid Lord, And let Desire pass across dread Charon's icy ford.
In melancholy moonless Acheron, Farm for the goodly earth and joyous day Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery May Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor, Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets mate no more,
There by a dim and dark Lethaean well Young Charmides was lying; wearily He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel, And with its little rifled treasury Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream, And watched the white stars founder, and the land was like a dream,