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.
On a Juniper-tree Cut down to Make Busks
By Aphra Behn (1640–1689)
WHILST happy I, triumphant stood,
The Pride and Glory of the Wood,
My Aromatic Boughs and Fruit
Did with all other Trees dispute;
Had Right by Nature to excel,        5
In pleasing both the Taste and Smell;
But to the Touch, I must confess,
Bore an unwilling Sullenness.
My Wealth, like bashful Virgins, I
Yielding with some Reluctancy:        10
For which my Value should be more,
Not giving easily my Store.
My verdant Branches all the Year
Did an eternal Beauty wear,
Did ever young and gay appear;        15
Nor do I hold Supremacy,
In all the Wood, o’er ev’ry Tree,
But e’en those two of my own Race,
That grew not in this happy Place.
But that in which I glory most,        20
And do myself with Reason boast,
Beneath my Shade the other Day
Young Philocles and Chloris lay.
Upon my Root he placed her Head,
And where I grew, he made her Bed;        25
Whilst I the canopy more largely spread.
Their trembling Limbs did greatly press
The kind supporting yielding grass,
Ne’er half so blessed as now, to bear
A Swain so young, a Nymph so fair.        30
My gentle Shade I kindly lent,
And ev’ry aiding Bough I bent.
So low, as sometimes had the Bliss
To rob the Shepherd of a Kiss:
Whilst he in Pleasures far above        35
The Sense of that Degree of Love,
Permitted ev’ry Stealth I made,
Unjealous of his Rival Shade,
I saw ’em kindle to Desire,
Whilst with soft Sighs they blew the Fire;        40
Saw the Approaches of their Joy,
He grew more fierce, and she less coy:
Saw how they mingled melting Rays,
Exchanging Love a thousand Ways.
Kind was the Force on ev’ry Side;        45
Her new Desires she could not hide
Nor would the Shepherd be denied.
Impatient, he waits no Consent,
But what she gave by Languishment.
The blessed Minute he pursued,        50
Whilst Love her Fear and Shame subdued;
And now transported in his Arms,
Yields to the Conqu’ror all her Charms.
His panting Breast to hers now joined,
They feast on Raptures unconfined,        55
Vast and luxuriant, such as prove
The Immortality of Love.
For, who but a Divinity
Could mingle Souls to that Degree,
And melt ’em into Ecstasy?        60
Where, like the Phoenix, both expire,
Whilst from the Ashes of their Fire,
Sprung up a new and soft Desire.
Like Charmers, thrice they did invoke
The God, and thrice new Vigour took;        65
And had the Nymph been half so kind,
As was the Shepherd well inclined,
The Myst’ry had not ended there:
But Chloris re-assum’d her Fear,
And chid the Swain for having prest        70
What she (alas!) could not resist;
Whilst he, in whom Love’s sacred Flame
Before and After was the same,
Humbly implores she would forget
That Fault, which he would yet repeat,        75
From active Joys with Shame they haste
To a Reflection on the past:
A thousand Times the Covert bless,
That did secure their Happiness;
Their Gratitude to ev’ry Tree        80
They pay, but most to happy Me.
The Shepherdess my Bark caressed,
Whilst he my Root (Love’s Pillow) kissed,
And did with Sighs their Fate deplore,
Since I must shelter ’em no more.        85
And if before my joys were such,
In having heard and seen so much,
My Griefs must be as great and high,
When all abandoned I must lie,
Doomed to a silent Destiny;        90
No more the silent Strife to hear,
The Shepherd’s Vows, the Virgin’s Fear;
No more a joyful Looker on,
Whilst Love’s soft Battle’s lost and won.
  With Grief I bowed my murm’ring Head,        95
And all my crystal dew I shed,
Which did in Chloris Pity move,
Chloris, whose Soul is made of Love.
She cut me down, and did translate
My being to a happier State:        100
No Martyr for Religion died
With half that unconsid’ring Pride;
My Top was on the Altar laid,
Where Love his softest Off’rings paid,
And was, as fragrant Incense, burned:        105
My Body into Busks was turned,
Where I still guard the sacred Store,
And of Love’s Temple keep the Door.

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