492
'O! where am I?' quoth she, 'in earth or heaven,
Or in the ocean drench'd, or in the fire?
What hour is this? or morn or weary even?
Do I delight to die, or life desire?                 496
  But now I liv'd, and life was death's annoy;
  But now I died, and death was lively joy.
'O! thou didst kill me; kill me once again:
Thy eyes' shrewd tutor, that hard heart of thine,    500
Hath taught them scornful tricks, and such disdain,
That they have murder'd this poor heart of mine;
  And these mine eyes, true leaders to their queen,
  But for thy piteous lips no more had seen.         504
'Long may they kiss each other for this cure!
O! never let their crimson liveries wear;
And as they last, their verdure still endure,
To drive infection from the dangerous year:          508
  That the star-gazers, having writ on death,
  May say, the plague is banish'd by thy breath.
'Pure lips, sweet seals in my soft lips imprinted,
What bargains may I make, still to be sealing?       512
To sell myself I can be well contented,
So thou wilt buy and pay and use good dealing;
  Which purchase if thou make, for fear of slips
  Set thy seal-manual on my wax-red lips.            516
'A thousand kisses buys my heart from me;
And pay them at thy leisure, one by one.
What is ten hundred touches unto thee?
Are they not quickly told and quickly gone?          520
  Say, for non-payment that the debt should double,
  Is twenty hundred kisses such a trouble?'
'Fair queen,' quoth he, 'if any love you owe me,
Measure my strangeness with my unripe years:         524
Before I know myself, seek not to know me;
No fisher but the ungrown fry forbears:
  The mellow plum doth fall, the green sticks fast,
  Or being early pluck'd is sour to taste.           528
'Look! the world's comforter, with weary gait
His day's hot task hath ended in the west;
The owl, night's herald, shrieks, 'tis very late;
The sheep are gone to fold, birds to their nest,     532
  And coal-black clouds that shadow heaven's light
  Do summon us to part, and bid good night.
'Now let me say good night, and so say you;
If you will say so, you shall have a kiss.'          536
'Good night,' quoth she; and ere he says adieu,
The honey fee of parting tender'd is:
  Her arms do lend his neck a sweet embrace;
  Incorporate then they seem, face grows to face.    540
Till, breathless, he disjoin'd, and backward drew
The heavenly moisture, that sweet coral mouth,
Whose precious taste her thirsty lips well knew,
Whereon they surfeit, yet complain on drouth:        544
  He with her plenty press'd, she faint with dearth,
  Their lips together glu'd, fall to the earth.
Now quick desire hath caught the yielding prey,
And glutton-like she feeds, yet never filleth;       548
Her lips are conquerors, his lips obey,
Paying what ransom the insulter willeth;
  Whose vulture thought doth pitch the price so high,
  That she will draw his lips' rich treasure dry.    552
And having felt the sweetness of the spoil,
With blindfold fury she begins to forage;
Her face doth reek and smoke, her blood doth boil,
And careless lust stirs up a desperate courage;      556
  Planting oblivion, beating reason back,
  Forgetting shame's pure blush and honour's wrack.
Hot, faint, and weary, with her hard embracing,
Like a wild bird being tam'd with too much handling,
Or as the fleet-foot roe that's tir'd with chasing,  561
Or like the froward infant still'd with dandling,
  He now obeys, and now no more resisteth,
  While she takes all she can, not all she listeth.  564
What wax so frozen but dissolves with tempering,
And yields at last to every light impression?
Things out of hope are compass'd oft with venturing,
Chiefly in love, whose leave exceeds commission:     568
  Affection faints not like a pale-fac'd coward,
  But then woos best when most his choice is froward.
When he did frown, O! had she then gave over,
Such nectar from his lips she had not suck'd.        572
Foul words and frowns must not repel a lover;
What though the rose have prickles, yet 'tis pluck'd:
  Were beauty under twenty locks kept fast,
  Yet love breaks through and picks them all at last.

Venus and Adonis Page 08

William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare
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