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.
 
Monrose and Agnes Sorel
By Voltaire (1694–1778)
 
(From La Pucelle, the Maid of Orleans, Canto XII.; translated by Ernest Dowson, 1899)

  TRUE, I had sworn to moralize no more,
To narrate brief, avoiding long discourse,
But garrulous the God-head I adore,
And who is proof against Don Cupid’s force?
His inspiration fires my fevered brain,        5
And my pen scribbles on the unequal strain.
Young beauties, maidens, widows, wives enrolled
Upon his charming banners’ ample fold;
Ye who alike receive his flames or darts,
Now tell me, when two glowing youthful hearts,        10
Equal in talents, merit and in grace,
When both would court you in the fond embrace,
Pressing alike, and fanning rapture’s fire,
Awakening in the breast each keen desire;
Does not a strange embarrassment ensue?
*        *        *        *        *
        15
  More than the king, Monrose already knew,
And with address from prating pages drew
Full information where fair Agnes lay;
Discreetly reconnoitering his way,
Just as a cat when quiet lies the house,        20
Watches the stealthy passage of a mouse,
And stealing forth the feeble foe to meet,
Lets not the earth feel the impress of her feet,
But once in view upon the prey she springs;
Monrose alike, impelled by love’s own wings,        25
With arms extended onward cautious steals,
Planting the toes, and raising high the heels;
O Agnes! Agnes! in thy room he kneels.
Less quickly fly to amber lightest straws,
Less quickly steel obeys magnetic laws,        30
Than on his knees the bold Monrose we find
Beside the couch where the fond belle reclined.
For words they had nor leisure nor desire,
Sudden as thought bright blazed the amorous fire
In an eye’s twinkling, one warm amorous kiss,        35
Their half-closed mouths united straight in bliss;
Their dying eyes the tender fires disclose,
Their soul comes floating to their lips of rose;
Their lips, which kissing, closer contact seek
And eloquently thus their passion speak!        40
Mute intercourse, the language of desire,
Enchanting prelude, organ of love’s fire:
Yet for a trice, ’t was fitting to forget
This concert sweet, this exquisite duet.
  Fair Agnes’ hand assists to disengage        45
The cumbrous garments of the impatient page,
Who casts aside his troublesome attire,
Disguise averse to nature and desire,
To mortals in the golden age unknown,
Shunned by the God who still hath naked gone.        50
Ye Gods, what treasures! It is Flora say,
With Youthful Zephyrus in wanton play?
Or is it Psyche fair caressing Love?
Or is it Venus in the Idalian grove
Clips fast the boy afar from the emprise        55
Of garish day, while Mars is wrath and sighs?
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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