Lesbia

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Lesbia
by Robert Ervin Howard

From whence came this grim desire?
   What was the wine in my blood?
What raced through my veins like fire
   And beat at my brain like a flood?

Bare is the desert's dust,
   Deep is the emerald sea—
Barer my deathless lust,
   Deeper the hunger of me.

Goddess I sit and brood—
   They cringe to my Hell-lit eyes,
The wretched women nude
   I have gripped between my thighs.

As they writhed between my hands
   And the ocean heard their screams
Firing my passion's brands
   As I dreamed my lurid dreams.

Their breath came fast and hot,
   Their tresses were Hades' mesh;
World and the worlds were not;
   Flesh against pulsing flesh.

Their white limbs fluttered and tossed,
   They whimpered beneath my grasp
And their maindenhood was lost
   In strange unnatural clasp.

Hours my pleasure beguiled
   The green Arcadian glades,
As idle mornings I whiled
   With free-hipped country maids.

Under the star-gemmed skies
   That looked upon curious scenes
I have spread the round white things
   Of naked and frightened queens.

What was it turned my face
   From brown-limbed Grecian boys,
Weary of their embrace
   To darker and barer joys?

A miser weary of coins
   I wearied of early charms,
Of youths who ungirt my loins,
   Restless sighed in their arms.

With many a youth I lay,
   But their wine to me was dregs.
I found scant joy in they
   Who parted my supple legs.

I turned to the loves I prize;
   Found joy amid perfumed curls,
In a maiden's amorous sighs,
   In the tears of naked girls.

These are the wine of delight—
   A girl's ungirdled charms,
A woman's laugh in the night
   As she lies in my eager arms.

Goddess I sit and laugh,
   Nude as the scornful moon—
World and the worlds are chaff
   Say, shall my day be soon?