Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
Beneath a Myrtle Shade
By John Dryden (1631–1700)
 
(From The Conquest of Granada, 1671)

BENEATH a Myrtle shade,
Which Love for none but happy Lovers made,
I slept, and straight my Love before me brought
Phillis, the object of my waking thought;
Undressed she came, my flames to meet,        5
While Love strow’d flowers beneath her feet:
    Flowers, which so press’d by her, became more sweet.
 
From the bright Vision’s head
A careless Veil of Lawn was loosely spread:
From her white Temples fell her shady hair,        10
Like cloudy sun-shine, not too brown nor fair,
Her hands, her lips did love inspire,
Her every Grace my heart did fire,
    But most her eyes, which languish with desire.
 
Ah charming Fair, said I,        15
How long can you my bliss and yours deny?
By nature and by Love this lonely shade
Was for revenge of suffering Lovers made:
Silence and shades with Love agree:
Both shelter you and favour me;        20
    You cannot blush, because I cannot see.
 
No, let me die, she said,
Rather than lose the spotless name of Maid.
Faintly methought she spoke; for all the while
She bid me not believe her, with a smile.        25
Then die, said I: She still denied,
And is it thus, thus she cry’d.
    You use a harmless Maid, and so she died.
 
I wak’d, and straight I knew
I loved so well, it made my dream prove true.        30
Fancy the kinder Mistress of the two,
Fancy had done what Phillis would not do.
Ah, cruel Nymph, cease your disdain,
Whilst I can dream you scorn in vain,
    Asleep or waking, you must ease my pain.        35
 
 
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