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4th Century B.C.

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4TH CENTURY B.C.

How beautiful, my wellbeloved, is your body of granite—
It smites my eyes like an army with banners.
Your lips are the red wine poured from goatskin bags,
Your brows are warriors' full-drawn bows,
Your glances the arrows they shoot therefrom,
And your hair is the mane of a lion, tawny and thick.

17TH CENTURY

Let us not love tonight past mind
But stifle our intent
Lest blazing passion, unconfined,
Provoke imperilment.

Against the dark, our fierce desire
Would flare too bright for sight,
So must we tame our blinding fire
And bank it for the night.

With luminating dawn's return
And appetite's increase
Our lusty flame can safely burn
In furious release.

18TH CENTURY

Since even modest airs and prudish dress
May not deter rash beaux from wantonness,
Can your unsullied innocence o'ervault
Concupiscent intention to assault?
My sweet, have no misgivings, for you wear
So plainly insurmountable an air
That ogling lechers, hunting am'rous game,
Will blush, apologize, and flee in shame.

19TH CENTURY

Ethereal nightingale, gallantly singing
Your heart out in rich melodies
To insentient stones, earless trees,
And indifferent insects, forsake them! Go winging
To town like a dart to the mark, I implore you,
And, serving as courier bird,
Tell her who is waiting this word:
"I'm locked in my room and can't come but adore you."

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Poetry magazine

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4th Century B.C.

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