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Poem by Arthur William Symons

Rosa Flammea

Beautiful demon, O veil those eyes of fire,
Cover your breasts that are whiter than milk, and ruddy
With dewy buds of the magical rose, your body,
Veil your lips from the shining of my desire!
As a rose growing up from hell you waver before me,
Shaking an odorous breath that is fire within;
The Lord Christ may not pardon me this sweet sin,
But the scent of the rose that is rooted in hell steals o'er me.
O Lord Christ, I am lost, I am lost, I am lost!
Her eyes are as stars in a pool and their spell is on me;
She lifts her unsearchable lids, chill fire is upon me,
It shudders through every vein, and my brain is tossed
As the leaves of a tree when the wind coils under and over;
She smiles, and I hear the heart beat in my side;
She lifts her hands, and I swirl in a clutching tide;
But shall my soul not burn in flame if I love her?
She shall veil those eyes, those lips, ah! that breast.
Demon seeking my soul, I do adjure thee,
In the name of him for whose tempted sake I endure thee,
Trouble my sight no more: lost soul, be at rest!
She smiles, and the air grows into a mist of spices,
Frankincense, cinnamon, labdanum, and myrrh
Rise in sweet smoke about the feet of her
Before whom the sweets of the world are as sacrifices.
Cinnamon, frankincense, labdanum, and myrrh
Smoke in the air, the fume of them closes round me;
Help, ere the waves of the flood of odours have drowned me,
Help, ere it be too late! There has no help come,
And I feel that the rose of the pit begins to blossom
Into the likeness of a lost soul on fire,
And the soul that was mine is emptied of all but desire
Of the rose of her lips and the rose of her bosom.
Ah! she smiles the great smile, the immortal shame:
Her mouth to my mouth, though hell be the price hereafter!...
I hear in the whirling winds her windy laughter,
And my soul for this shall whirl in the winds of flame.

Arthur William Symons

Arthur William Symons's other poems:
  1. Serata Di Fiesta
  2. Montserrat
  3. Benedictine
  4. On the Stage
  5. Of Charity

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