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.
 
To One in Alienation
By Arthur Symons (1865–1945)
 
(From London Nights, 1895)

I
LAST night I saw you decked to meet
The coming of those most reluctant feet:
The little bonnet that you wear
When you would fain, for his sake, be more fair;
The primrose ribbons that so grace        5
The perfect pallor of your face;
The dark gown folded back about the throat,
The folds of lacework that denote
All that beneath them, just beneath them, lies:
God, for his eyes.        10
 
So the man came and took you; and we lay
So near and yet so far away,
You in his arms, awake for joy, and I
Awake for very misery,
Cursing a sleepless brain that would but scrawl        15
Your image on the aching wall,
That would but pang me with the sense
Of that most sweet accursed violence
Of lovers’ hands that weary to caress
(Those hands!) your unforbidden loveliness.        20
 
And with the dawn that vision came again
To an unrested and recurrent brain:
To think your body, warm and white,
Lay in his arms all night;
That it was given him to surprise,        25
With those unhallowed eyes,
The secrets of your beauty, hid from me,
That I may never (may I never?) see:
I who adore you, he who finds in you
(Poor child!) a half-forgotten point of view.        30
 
II
As I lay on the stranger’s bed,
And clasped the stranger-woman I had hired,
Desiring only memory dead
Of all that I had once desired;
 
It was then that I wholly knew        35
How dearly I had loved you, my lost friend;
While I am I, and you are you,
How I must love you to the end.
 
For I lay in her arms awake,
Awake and cursing the indifferent night,        40
That ebbed so slowly, for your sake,
My heart’s desire, my soul’s delight;
 
For I lay in her arms awake,
Awake in such a solitude of shame,
That when I kissed her, for your sake,        45
My lips were sobbing on your name.
 
 
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