My limbs are wasted with a flame,
My feet are sore with travelling,
For, calling on my Lady’s name,
My lips have now forgot to sing.
O Linnet in the wild-rose brake
Strain for my Love thy melody,
O Lark sing louder for love’s sake,
My gentle Lady passeth by.
She is too fair for any man
To see or hold his heart’s delight,
Fairer than Queen or courtesan
Or moonlit water in the night.
Her hair is bound with myrtle leaves,
(Green leaves upon her golden hair!)
Green grasses through the yellow sheaves
Of autumn corn are not more fair.
Her little lips, more made to kiss
Than to cry bitterly for pain,
Are tremulous as brook-water is,
Or roses after evening rain.
Her neck is like white melilote
Flushing for pleasure of the sun,
The throbbing of the linnet’s throat
Is not so sweet to look upon.
As a pomegranate, cut in twain,
White-seeded, is her crimson mouth,
Her cheeks are as the fading stain
Where the peach reddens to the south.
O twining hands! O delicate
White body made for love and pain!
O House of love! O desolate
Pale flower beaten by the rain!
A ring of gold and a milk-white dove
Are goodly gifts for thee,
And a hempen rope for your own love
To hang upon a tree.
For you a House of Ivory,
(Roses are white in the rose-bower)!
A narrow bed for me to lie,
(White, O white, is the hemlock flower)!
Myrtle and jessamine for you,
(O the red rose is fair to see)!
For me the cypress and the rue,
(Finest of all is rosemary)!
For you three lovers of your hand,
(Green grass where a man lies dead)!
For me three paces on the sand,
(Plant lilies at my head)!
He was a Grecian lad, who coming home
With pulpy figs and wine from Sicily
Stood at his galley’s prow, and let the foam
Blow through his crisp brown curls unconsciously,
And holding wave and wind in boy’s despite
Peered from his dripping seat across the wet and stormy night.
Till with the dawn he saw a burnished spear
Like a thin thread of gold against the sky,
And hoisted sail, and strained the creaking gear,
And bade the pilot head her lustily
Against the nor’west gale, and all day long
Held on his way, and marked the rowers’ time with measured song.
And when the faint Corinthian hills were red
Dropped anchor in a little sandy bay,
And with fresh boughs of olive crowned his head,
And brushed from cheek and throat the hoary spray,
And washed his limbs with oil, and from the hold
Brought out his linen tunic and his sandals brazen-soled,