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.
 
The Geranium
By Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816)
 
(1789)

IN the close covert of a grove,
By nature formed for scenes of love,
Said Susan in a lucky hour,
Observe yon sweet geranium flower;
How straight upon its stalk it stands,        5
And tempts our violating hands:
Whilst the soft bud as yet unspread,
Hangs down its pale declining head:
Yet, soon as it is ripe to blow,
The stems shall rise, the head shall glow.        10
Nature, said I, my lovely Sue,
To all her followers lends a clue;
Her simple laws themselves explain,
As links of one continued chain;
For her the mysteries of creation,        15
Are but the works of generation:
Yon blushing, strong, triumphant flower,
Is in the crisis of its power:
But short, alas! its vigorous reign,
He sheds his seed, and drops again;        20
The bud that hangs in pale decay,
Feels not, as yet, the plastic ray;
To-morrow’s sun shall bid him rise,
Then, too, he sheds his seed and dies:
But words, my love, are vain and weak,        25
For proof, let bright example speak;
Then straight before the wondering maid,
The tree of life I gently laid;
Observe, sweet Sue, his drooping head,
How pale, how languid, and how dead!        30
Yet, let the sun of thy bright eyes,
Shine but a moment, it shall rise;
Let but the dew of thy soft hand
Refresh the stem, it straight shall stand:
Already, see, it swells, it grows,        35
Its head is redder than the rose!
Its shrivelled fruit, of dusky hue,
Now glows, a present fit for Sue:
The balm of life each artery fills,
And in o’erflowing drops distils.        40
“Oh me!” cried Susan, when is this?
What strange tumultuous throbs of bliss?
Sure, never mortal, till this hour,
Felt such emotion at a flower:
Oh, serpent! cunning to deceive,        45
Sure, ’tis this tree that tempted Eve;
The crimson apples hang so fair,
Alas! what woman could forbear?
Well hast thou guessed, my love, I cried,
It is the tree by which she died;        50
The tree which could alone content her,
All nature, Susan, seeks the centre;
Yet, let us still, poor Eve forgive,
It’s the tree by which we live;
For lovely woman still it grows,        55
And in the centre only blows.
But chief for thee, it spreads its charms,
For paradise is in thy arms.—
I ceased, for nature kindly here
Began to whisper in her ear:        60
And lovely Sue lay softly panting,
While the geranium tree was planting.
Till in the heat of am’rous strife,
She burst the mellow tree of life.
“Oh, heaven!” cried Susan, with a sigh,        65
“The hour we taste,—we surely die;
Strange raptures seize my fainting frame,
And all my body glows with flame;
Yet let me snatch one parting kiss
To tell my love I die with bliss:        70
That pleased, thy Susan yields her breath;
Oh! who would live if this be death!”
 
 
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