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.
 
Love-Songs
By James Oppenheim (1882–1932)
 
(From War and Laughter, 1916)

MY tiny hands not being able to weave a garland of the stars,
I made curious songs for my beloved,
To crown her with.
 
For it seemed to me that my beloved dwelt in Paradise,
Somewhere with Beatrice of the Italian song,        5
And that a ring of stars would be a poor enough halo for her radiant head.
 
Ah, but thus I wronged my love for my beloved:
For I made her a spirit, and left the greatest songs of all unsung:
The true love-songs that a man sings with his lips, his eyes, his flesh:
Not to a heavenly spirit, but to a human woman …        10
 
So now I brush away Paradise and stars and curious songs like hindering cobwebs,
And see that my beloved is a breathing and laughing and passionate body,
And that the iris of her eyes is blue, and the pupils dilated and wonderfully deep,
And that her lips are firm and moist and sweet,
And her hands grasp tinglingly,        15
And the skin of her neck and shoulders is cool and fresh,
And that there is a fragrance about her that is lovelier to me than meadows of sun-dried hay,
And that her laughter is irresistible,
And that she in my arms is as much of glory and ecstasy that a man may hold.
 
Wherefore Paradise is unnecessary,        20
And the flame of stars works no more transformations than the flame of her lips meeting mine,
And the miracle of her actuality, her breathing flesh, and her contact with me,
Is as great a miracle as space may produce,
And so far as I am concerned, a greater.
 
 
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