by George Sterling (1869–1926)

Thou art that madness of supreme desire,
    Which lacking, beauty is but dross and clay.
    Within thy veins is all the fire of day
And all the stars divinity of fire.
Thine are the lips and loins that never tire,
    And thine the bliss that makes my soul dismay.
    Upon thy breast what god at midnight lay,
To make thy flesh the music of his lyre?

Ah! such alone should know thy loveliness!
Ah! such alone should know thy full caress,
    O goddess of intolerable delight!
        I beg of Fate the guerdon and the grace,
        Far beyond death, to know in thine embrace
    Eternal rapture in eternal night.

Smith, T.R., ed.  Poetica Erotica.  (New York:  Crown Publishers, 1921).

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