Love and Sleep

Lying asleep between the strokes of night
        I saw my love lean over my sad bed,
        Pale as the duskiest lily’s leaf or head,
Smooth-skinned and dark, with bare throat made to bite,

Too wan for blushing and too warm for white,
        But perfect-coloured without white or red.
        And her lips opened amorously, and said –
I wist not what, saving one word – Delight.

And all her face was honey to my mouth,
        And all her body pasture to mine eyes;
                The long lithe arms and hotter hands than fire,
The quivering flanks, hair smelling of the south,
        The bright light feet, the splendid supple thighs
                And glittering eyelids of my soul’s desire.

—Algernon Charles Swinburne

For more Algernon Charles Swinburne love poems, see Poems and Ballads

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photo by Kelly Sauer