Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
The Prospect and Bower of Bliss
By Aphra Behn (1640–1689)
 
(From Poems, 1683)

’TIS all eternal spring around,
  And all the trees with fragrant flowers are crown’d;
No clouds, no misty showers obscure the light,
  But all is calm, serene and gay,
The heavens are drest with a perpetual bright,        5
And all the earth with everlasting May.
Each minute blows the Rose and Jesamine,
  And twines with new-born Eglantine,
Each minute new discoveries bring;
Of something sweet, of something ravishing.        10
 
Fountains, wandering brooks soft rills,
  That o’er the wanton pebbles play;
And all the woods with tender murmuring fills,
  Inspiring love, inciting joy;
  (The sole, the solemn business of the day)        15
Through all the groves, the glades and thickets run,
And nothing see but love on all their banks along;
A thousand flowers of different kinds,
  The neighboring meads adorn;
Whose sweetness snatcht by flying winds,        20
  O’er all the Bow’r of Bliss is born;
Whether all things in nature strive to bring,
All that is soft, all that is ravishing.
 
The verdant banks no other prints retain,
But where young lovers, and young loves have lain.        25
  For love has nothing here to do,
  But to be wanton, soft and gay,
  And give a lavish loose to joy.
  His emptied quiver, and his bow,
In flowry wreaths and rosy garlands crown’d,        30
  In myrtle shades are hung,
As conquerors when the Victories won,
Dispose their glorious trophies all around.
Soft winds and Echos that do haunt each grove,
Still whisper, and repeat no other Songs than love.        35
Which round about the sacred bower they sing,
Where every thing arrives that’s sweet and ravishing.
 
A thousand gloomy walks the bower contains,
  Sacred all to mighty love;
A thousand winding turns where pleasure reigns;        40
  Obscur’d from day by twining boughs above,
  Where Love invents a thousand plays,
  Where lovers act ten thousand joys:
  Nature has taught each little bird,
  A soft example to afford;        45
  They bill and look, and sing and love,
  And charm the air, and charm the grove;
Whilst underneath the ravisht swain is lying,
Gazing, sighing, pressing, dying;
Still with new desire warm’d,        50
Still with new joy, new rapture charm’d;
Amongst the green soft rivulets do pass,
In winding streams half hid in flowers and grass,
Who purl and murmur as they glide along,
And mix their music with the shepherd’s pipe and song,        55
Which echo’s through the sacred bower repeat,
Where every thing arrives that’s ravishing and sweet.
 
  The virgin here shows no disdain,
  Nor does the shepherd sigh in vain,
  This knows no cruelty, nor that no pain:        60
No youth complains upon his rigorous fair;
No injur’d maid upon her perjured dear,
’Tis only love, fond love finds entrance here;
  The notes of birds, the murmuring boughs,
  When gentle winds glide through the glades,        65
  Soft sighs of love, and soft breath’d vows,
The tender whisperings of the yielding maids,
  Dashing fountains, purling springs,
The short breath’d cries from faint resistance sent,
  (Cries which no aid desires or brings)        70
The soft effects of fear and languishment;
  The little struggling of the fair,
The trembling force of the young conqueror,
  The tender arguments he brings,
The pretty nonsense with which she assails,        75
Which as she speaks, she hopes it naught prevails
But yielding owns her love above her reasonings,
Is all is heard; silence and shade the rest.
Which best with love, which best with joys consist,
All which young Echo’s through the bower does sing,        80
Where every thing is heard, that’s sweet and ravishing.
 
Recesses dark, and grotto’s all conspire,
To favour love and soft desire;
Shades, springs, and fountains flow’ry beds,
To joys invites, to pleasure leads,        85
To pleasure which all humane thought exceeds.
Heavn’, earth, and sea, here all combine,
To propagate love’s great design,
And render the Appointments all Divine.
After long toil, ’tis here the lover reaps        90
Transporting softnesses beyond his hopes;
’Tis here fair eyes, all languishing impart
The secrets of the fond inclining heart;
Fine hands and arms for tender pressings made,
In Love’s dear business always are employ’d:        95
  The soft enchantments of the tongue,
That does all other eloquence control,
  Is breath’d with broken sighs among,
  Into the ravish’d shepherds soul,
Whilst all is taken, all is given,        100
  That can complete lovers’ heaven:
And Io peans through the woods do ring.
From new fletched God, in songs all ravishing.
 
 
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