Whose cliffs repeat with answering smile Their features in its sun-kissed waves!
An exile from thy native place,
We view thee in a northern clime; Yet mark on thy majestic face
A glory still undimmed by Time.
Through those calm lips, proud goddess, speak!
Portray to us thy gorgeous fane, Where Melian lovers thronged to seek
Thine aid, Love's paradise to gain;
And where, as in the saffron east,
Day's jeweled gates were open flung, With stately pomp the attendant priest
Drew back the veil before thee hung;
And when the daring kiss of morn,
Empurpling, made thy charms more fair, Sweet strains from unseen minstrels born
Awoke from dreams the perfumed air.
Vouchsafe at last our minds to free
From doubts pertaining to thy charms: The meaning of thy bended knee,
The secret of thy vanished arms.
Wast thou in truth conjoined with Mars? Did thy fair hands his shield embrace,
The surface of whose golden bars Grew lovely from thy mirrored face?
Or was it some bright scroll of fame
Thus poised on thy extended knee, Upon which thou didst trace the name
Of that fierce god so dear to thee?
Venus Of Melos.
Whate'er thou hadst, no mere delight Was thine the glittering prize to hold;
Not thine the form which met thy sight Replying from the burnished gold.
Unmindful what thy hands retained, Thy gaze is fixed beyond, above:
Some dearer object held unchained The goddess of immortal love.
We mark the motion of thine eyes, And smile; for, held'st thou shield or scroll,
A tender love-glance we surprise, That tells the secret of thy soul.