To love and loathe the bonds that hold me fast,
Your captive and your conquerer in turn;
Am I not shamed to match my charms with those
Of fair boy-beauties? gentled for your love
To match the freshness of the morning rose,
And lisp in murmurs like the cooing dove.
O, men of Athens! by the purple sea
In far Miletus, when I dreamed of you,
Watching the winged ships that invited me
To follow their white track upon the blue;
'Twas the desire to mate my lofty soul
That drew me ever like a viewless chain
Toward Homer's land of heroes, 'til I stole
Away from home and dreams, to you and pain.
I brought you beauty—but your boys invade
My woman's realm of love with girlish airs.
I brought high gifts, and powers to persuade,
To charm, to teach, with your philosophers.
But knowledge is man's realm alone, you hold;
And I who am your equal am cast down
Level with those who sell themselves for gold—
A crownless queen—a woman of the town!
Ye vain Athenians, know this, that I
By your hard laws am only made more free;
Your unloved dames may sit at home and cry,
But, being unwed, I meet you openly,
A foreigner, you cannot wed with me;
But I can win your hearts and sway your will,
And make your free wives envious to see
What power Aspasia wields, Milesian still.
And have them for my flatterers, when I please;
Who would not be beloved of Pericles?
I could have had all Athens at my feet;