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A la Belle Helene



After Ronsard.


More closely than the clinging vine
About the wedded tree,
Clasp thou thine arms, ah, mistress mine!
About the heart of me.
Or seem to sleep, and stoop your face
Soft on my sleeping eyes,
Breathe in your life, your heart, your grace,
Through me, in kissing wise.
Bow down, bow down your face, I pray,
To me, that swoon to death,
Breathe back the life you kissed away,
Breathe back your kissing breath.
So by your eyes I swear and say,
My mighty oath and sure,
From your kind arms no maiden may
My loving heart allure.
I'll bear your yoke, that's light enough,
And to the Elysian plain,
When we are dead of love, my love,
One boat shall bear us twain.
They'll flock around you, fleet and fair,
All true loves that have been,
And you of all the shadows there,
Shall be the shadow queen.
Ah, shadow-loves and shadow-lips!
Ah, while 'tis called to-day,
Love me, my love, for summer slips,
And August ebbs away.


Andrew Lang