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.
 
From “Discordants”
By Conrad Aiken (1889–1973)
 
(III. From Turns and Movies, 1916)

VERMILIONED mouth, tired with many kisses,
Eyes, that have lighted for so many eyes,—
Are you not weary yet with countless lovers,
Desirous now to take even me for prize?
 
Draw not my glance, nor set my sick heart beating,—        5
Body so stripped, for all your silks and lace.
Do not reach out pale hands to me, seductive,
Nor slant sly eyes, O subtly smiling face.
 
For I am drawn to you, like wind I follow,
Like a warm amorous wind … though I desire        10
Even in dream to keep one face before me,
One face like fire, and holier than fire.
*        *        *        *        *
I walk beneath these trees, and in this darkness
Muse beyond seas of her from whom I came,
While you, with catlike step, steal close beside me,        15
Spreading your perfume round me like soft flame.
 
Ah! should I once stoop face and forehead to you,
Into and through your sweetness, a night like this,
In the lime-blossomed darkness feel your bosom,
Warm and so soft, and find your lips to kiss,        20
 
And tear at your strange flesh with crazy fingers,
And drink with mouth gone mad your eyes’ wild wine,
And cleave to you, body with breathless body,
Till bestial were exalted to divine,—
 
Would I again, O lamia silked and scented,        25
Out of the slumberous magic of your eyes,
And your narcotic perfume, soft and febrile,
Have the romantic hardihood to rise,
 
And set my heart across great seas of distance
With love unsullied for her from whom I came?—        30
With catlike step you steal beside me, past me,
Leaving your perfume round me like soft flame.
 
 
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