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.
 
Boyhood
Anonymous
 
(From The Point of View)

WERE you to ask what age of womanhood
Brings most delight, producing most of good,
I should, to quote a phrase much used in rhyme,
“Turn back the leaflets in the Book of Time.”
To find the page, whereon, in letters bright,        5
Is written clear, my first ecstatic night.
 
I was a boy attuned to passion’s strain,
I knew its music and I knew its pain,
I longed for—something—but, I was a boy;
I knew not how to change my pain to joy.        10
 
But Heaven has given to earth, in its dire needs,
No sweeter thing than widows, in their weeds,
And in the household, where I ruled supreme,
A widow lived, a sorrowing, throbbing dream.
I was her comfort. Many times, at night,        15
When I, awakened by some childish fright,
Cried out to her, she took me to her side,
And kissed me till my fears were pacified.
She was my confidant. My childish fears,
My hopes and dreams and all my boyish tears        20
Found comfort sweet upon that loving breast
Where all perplexities were set at rest.
 
One night, worn out with tossing to and fro,
In longings vain which boyhood’s night must know,
I dared to make pretence of sudden fright,        25
That I might see that figure, clad in white,
Come stealing to my side to whisper low:
“What makes my precious darling tremble so?”
All ye who cannot sympathize, stop here.
I speak in tenderness and hold most dear        30
The memory of that sweet transition hour,
When Nature first revealed her wondrous power.
My heart still throbs as I remember when
I joined the ranks of sturdy little men.
 
I know not now, what courage made me dare,        35
But, pillowed close, upon her bosom fair,
A truant hand went wandering far astray
And found—that night hath greater charms than day.
As mighty Mars, full statured, in an hour,
From great Athena’s helmet, in his power,        40
Sprang forth full armoured, at the will of Jove,
 
So I sprang forth, equipped and armed for love.
With new-found strength, I ceased to be afraid
And something wild within would not be stayed.
Disarmed, perhaps, by hungry widowhood.        45
She could not check me, even if she would
And kisses wild were riotously pressed
On starving lips too long left uncaressed,
And roses red, upon the white flesh burned,
The while she murmured: “Child! where have you learned?”        50
 
I knew my madness, but my heart was fire
And all was swept away in my desire.
Her very gown of daintiest, filmiest lace,
Seemed cumbersome to me and out of place;
I reached and tore it, throat to hem, to find—        55
How cruel Fate has been to those born blind.
For even the moonbeams, stealing through the bars,
Turned back to whisper to the twinkling stars,
And tip-toed out again to realms of space,
But left the memory of her blushing face.        60
And when, at last, her beating heart stood still,
As though no more subservient to her will,
And when with fluttering breath, she closed her eyes,
I seemed to lose her, in a mist of sighs.
My senses swam as though a bursting star        65
Had set on fire the cloudland realms afar,
For one brief moment, I was lost in fear
That all I held so passionately dear
Might chide me as she never had before,
And hold me in her clinging arms no more.        70
I was a boy—unversed in Nature’s needs,
Unlearned of a widow’s ways, without their weeds.
 
She was not wanton. Nay! she was a woman.
Whose wakened, passionate heart was truly human.
And just when love was bursting into flower,        75
The fates, relentless, sent her saddest hour,
And, torn apart, from all she held most dear,
Time’s healing touch had dried the falling tear.
She loved me. I could feel her bosom stir
And strive to soothe my turbulent thoughts of her.        80
But boon companions who have loved for long,
Draw wavering lines betwixt the right and wrong.
And who shall say that love, new-born like this,
Must never know the madness of a kiss!
And who shall say it was her duty clear        85
To let me find a different atmosphere
In which to learn the mysteries of the world,
Where unclad sin, in wicked eddies whirled!
I must not whisper, in a careless way,
The thoughts that came to me at dawn of day.        90
And yet—when asked what age of womanhood
Brings most delight, producing most of good,
I turn to widowhood with tender touch,
And say: “Stop her, for widows know so much.”
 
 
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