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.
 
Sapphic Ode XLVI: “‘Fool, faint not thou!’ I laughed in blame”
By Michael Field (Katherine Harris Bradley) (1846–1914)
 
(From Long Ago, 1889)

“FOOL, faint not thou!” I laughed in blame
Of Larichus, pale in the flame
Of Hymen’s torches: while, alas,
  I feel my senses swoon,
  Or quicken with delight        5
  At Nature’s simplest boon:
  Unmoved I cannot pass
  The fine bloom of the grass,
Or watch the dimpling shadows on the white,
Vibrating poplar with unshaken frame.        10
 
“Faint not,” I said—and yet my breath
Comes sharp as I were nigh to death
If suddenly across the grove
  The lovely laugh I hear,
  Or catch the lovely speech        15
  Of one who makes a peer
  Of the blest gods above
  The man she deigns to love.
O Anactoria, wast thou born to teach
Sappho how vainly she admonisheth?        20
 
“Faint not”—the poet must dare all;
Me no experience shall appal,
No pang that can make shrill my song:
  Though Atthis, hateful, flit
  From my fond arms, and by        25
  Andromeda dare sit,
  I will not let my strong
  Heart fail, will bear the wrong,
With piercing accents for Adonis cry,
Or thrice on perished Timas vainly call.        30
 
“Faint not,” I said. Would’st thou be great,
Thou must with every shock vibrate
That life can bring thee; seek and yearn;
  Feel in thyself the stroke
  Of love, although it rive        35
  As mountain-wind an oak;
  Let jealous passion burn
  If Rhodope must turn
To other love; and laugh that age should strive
The ardours of thy bosom to abate.        40
 
 
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