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Fragment of the Elegy on the Death of Adonis


[Published by Forman, "Poetical Works of P. B. S.", 1876.]

I mourn Adonis dead--loveliest Adonis--
Dead, dead Adonis--and the Loves lament.
Sleep no more, Venus, wrapped in purple woof--
Wake violet-stoled queen, and weave the crown
Of Death,--'tis Misery calls,--for he is dead. _5

The lovely one lies wounded in the mountains,
His white thigh struck with the white tooth; he scarce
Yet breathes; and Venus hangs in agony there.
The dark blood wanders o'er his snowy limbs,
His eyes beneath their lids are lustreless, _10
The rose has fled from his wan lips, and there
That kiss is dead, which Venus gathers yet.

A deep, deep wound Adonis...
A deeper Venus bears upon her heart.
See, his beloved dogs are gathering round-- _15
The Oread nymphs are weeping--Aphrodite
With hair unbound is wandering through the woods,
'Wildered, ungirt, unsandalled--the thorns pierce
Her hastening feet and drink her sacred blood.
Bitterly screaming out, she is driven on _20
Through the long vales; and her Assyrian boy,
Her love, her husband, calls--the purple blood
From his struck thigh stains her white navel now,
Her bosom, and her neck before like snow.

Alas for Cytherea--the Loves mourn-- _25
The lovely, the beloved is gone!--and now
Her sacred beauty vanishes away.
For Venus whilst Adonis lived was fair--
Alas! her loveliness is dead with him.
The oaks and mountains cry, Ai! ai! Adonis! _30
The springs their waters change to tears and weep--
The flowers are withered up with grief...

Ai! ai! ... Adonis is dead
Echo resounds ... Adonis dead.
Who will weep not thy dreadful woe. O Venus? _35
Soon as she saw and knew the mortal wound
Of her Adonis--saw the life-blood flow
From his fair thigh, now wasting,--wailing loud
She clasped him, and cried ... 'Stay, Adonis!
Stay, dearest one,... _40
and mix my lips with thine--
Wake yet a while, Adonis--oh, but once,
That I may kiss thee now for the last time--
But for as long as one short kiss may live--
Oh, let thy breath flow from thy dying soul _45
Even to my mouth and heart, that I may suck

_23 his Rossetti, Dowden, Woodberry; her Boscombe manuscript, Forman.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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