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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Greece: Melos (Milo), the Island

The Venus of Milo

By Sarah Helen Whitman (1803–1878)

GODDESS of dreams, mother of love and sorrow,

Such sorrow as from love’s fair promise flows,

Such love as from love’s martyrdoms doth borrow

That conquering calm which only sorrow knows;

Venus, triumphant! so serene and tender,

In thy calm after-bloom of life and love,

More fair than when of old thy sea-born splendor

Surprised the senses of Olympian Jove:

Not these the lips that, kindling into kisses,

Poured subtile heats through Adon’s languid frame,

Rained on his sullen lips their warm caresses,

Thrilled to his heart and turned its frost to flame!

Thy soul transcending passion’s wild illusion,

Its fantasy and fever and unrest,

Broods tenderly in thought’s devout seclusion,

O’er some lost love-dream lingering in thy breast.

Thy face seems touched with pity for the anguish

Of earth’s disconsolate and lonely hearts;

For all the lorn and loveless lives that languish

In solitary homes and sordid marts:

With pity for the faithlessness and feigning,

The vain repentance and the long regret,

The perfumed lamps in lonely chambers waning,

The untouched fruits on golden salvers set:

With pity for the patient watchers yearning

Through glimmering casements over midnight moors,

Thrilled by the echo of far feet returning

Through the blank darkness of the empty doors:

With sorrow for the coy, sweet buds that cherish

In virgin pride love’s luxury of gloom,

And in their fair unfolded beauty perish,

Fading like flowers that knew not how to bloom:

With sorrow for the over-blown pale roses

That yield their fragrance to the wandering air;

For all the penalties that life imposes

On passion’s dream, on love’s divine despair.