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.
 
Stella Maris
By Arthur Symons (1865–1945)
 
(From London Nights, 1895)

WHY is it I remember yet
You, of all women one has met
In random wayfare, as one meets
The chance romances of the streets,
The Juliet of a night? I know        5
Your heart holds many a Romeo.
And I, who call to mind your face
In so serene a pausing-place,
Where the bright pure expanse of sea,
The shadowy shore’s austerity,        10
Seem a reproach to you and me,
I too have sought on many a breast
The ecstasy of love’s unrest,
I too have had my dreams, and met
(Ah me!) how many a Juliet.        15
Why is it, then, that I recall
You, neither first nor last of all?
For, surely as I see to-night
The phantom of the lighthouse light,
Against the sky, across the bay,        20
Fade, and return, and fade away,
So surely do I see your eyes
Out of the empty night arise,
Child, you arise and smile to me
Out of the night, out of the sea,        25
The Nereid of a moment there,
And is it seaweed in your hair?
 
O lost and wrecked, how long ago,
Out of the drowning past, I know
You come to call me, come to claim        30
My share of your delicious shame.
Child, I remember, and can tell
One night we loved each other well,
And one night’s love, at least or most,
Is not so small a thing to boast.        35
You were adorable, and I
Adored you to infinity,
That nuptial night too briefly borne
To the oblivion of morn.
Ah! no oblivion, for I feel        40
Your lips delirously steal
Along my neck, and fasten there;
I feel the perfume of your hair,
I feel your breast that heaves and dips,
Desiring my desirous lips,        45
And that ineffable delight
When souls turn bodies, and unite
In the intolerable, the whole
Rapture of the embodied soul.
 
That joy was ours, we passed it by;        50
You have forgotten me, and I
Remember you thus strangely, won
An instant from oblivion.
And I, remembering, would declare
That joy, not shame, is ours to share,        55
Joy that we had the frank delight
To choose the chances of one night,
Out of vague nights, and days at strife,
So infinitely full of life.
What shall it profit me to know        60
Your heart holds many a Romeo?
Why should I grieve, though I forget
How many another Juliet?
Let us be glad to have forgot
That roses fade, and loves are not,        65
As dreams, immortal, though they seem
Almost as real as a dream.
It is for this I see you rise,
A wraith, with starlight in your eyes,
Where calm hours weave, for such a mood        70
Solitude out of solitude;
For this, for this, you come to me
Out of the night, out of the sea.
 
 
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