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.
 
Hymn to Venus
By Sappho (fl. c. 610–580 B.C.)
 
(Translated by Francis Fawkes. From The Festival of Love, 1789)

VENUS, bright Goddess of the skies,
To whom unnumbered temples rise,
Jove’s daughter fair, whose wily arts
Delude fond lovers of their hearts;
Oh, listen gracious to my prayer,        5
And free my mind from anxious care.
 
If e’er you heard my ardent vow,
Propitious goddess, hear me now!
And oft my ardent vow you’ve heard,
By Cupid’s friendly aid preferred,        10
Oft left the golden courts of Jove
To listen to my tales of love.
 
The radiant car your sparrows drew;
You gave the word, and swift they flew,
Through liquid air they winged their way,        15
I saw their quivering pinions play:
To my plain roof they bore their queen,
Of aspect mild and look serene.
 
Soon as you came by your command,
Back flew the wantoned, feathered band,        20
Then, with a sweet enchanting look,
Divinely smiling, thus you spoke;
“Why didst thou call me to thy cell?
Tell me, my gentle Sappho, tell.
 
“What healing medicine shall I find        25
To cure thy love-distempered mind?
Say, shall I lend thee all my charms
To win young Phaon to thy arms?
Or does some other swain subdue
Thy heart? my Sappho, tell me, who?        30
 
“Though now, averse, thy charms he slight,
He soon shall view thee with delight:
Though now he scorns thy gifts to take,
He soon to thee shall offerings make;
Though now thy beauties fail to move,        35
He soon shall melt with equal love.”
 
Once more, O Venus! hear my prayer,
And ease my mind of anxious care;
Again vouchsafe to be my guest,
And calm this tempest in my breast!        40
To thee, bright queen, my vows aspire;
O grant me all my heart’s desire!
 
 
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