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.
 
Selfishness
By Alfred Bryan (1871–1958)
 
(From Pagan Love Lyrics, 1921)

SHE whom I love must be above reproach;
Must veil her face to all admiring eyes;
Must droop her lids to all admiring lovers;
Must not betray the beauty of her limbs
To him and him and him and him.        5
She must be all our mothers must have been,
And all we think our sisters are
From all the crowd apart, too pure to mar.
 
But when alone with me—then she may be:
She may be lewd as Messaline was lewd.        10
She may be nude, and still remain a prude.
’Tis nothing wrong that she may do with me;
She’s still a woman, chaste, with modesty.
 
But let her be of these with other men,
God pity her, for she is,—well, what they?        15
A harlot, scarlet, crimsoned courtesan per se
She’s worse than that if she’s not true to me.
 
 
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