Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
Sapphic Ode LIV: “Adown the Lesbian vales”
By Michael Field (Katherine Harris Bradley) (1846–1914)
(From Long Ago, 1889)

    ADOWN the Lesbian vales,
    When spring first flashes out,
    I watch the lovely rout
  Of maidens flitting ’mid the honey-bees
    For thyme and heath,        5
    Cistus, and trails
    Of myrtle-wreath:
    They bring me these
My passionate, unsated sense to please.
    In turn, to please my maids,        10
    Most deftly will I sing
    Of their soft cherishing
  In apple-orchards with cool waters by,
    Where slumber streams
    From quivering shades,        15
    And Cypris seems
    To bend and sigh,
Her golden calyx offering amorously.
    What praises would be best
    Wherewith to crown my girls?        20
    The rose when she unfurls
  Her balmy, lighted buds is not so good,
    So fresh as they
    When on my breast
    They lean, and say        25
    All that they would,
Opening their glorious, candid maidenhood.
    To that pure band alone
    I sing of marriage-loves;
    As Aphrodite’s doves        30
  Glance in the sun their colour comes and goes:
    No girls let fall
    Their maiden zone
    At Hymen’s call
    Serene as those        35
Taught by a poet why sweet Hesper glows.

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