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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

To the Venus of Melos

By John Lawson Stoddard (1850–1931)

O GODDESS of that Grecian isle

Whose shore the blue Ægean laves,

Whose cliffs repeat with answering smile

Their features in its sun-kissed waves,—

An exile from thy native place,

We view thee in a northern clime,

Yet mark on thy majestic face

A glory still undimmed by time.

Through those calm lips, proud Goddess, speak!

Portray to us thy gorgeous fane,

Where Melian suitors thronged to seek

Thine aid, love’s paradise to gain;

Where, oft as in the saffron east

Day’s jewelled gates were open flung,

With stately pomp the attendant priest

Drew back the veil before thee hung;

And as the daring kiss of morn,

Empurpling, made thy charms more fair,

Sweet strains, from unseen minstrels born,

Awoke from dreams the perfumed air.

Vouchsafe at least our minds to free

From doubts pertaining to thy charms;

The meaning of thy bended knee,

The secret of thy vanished arms!

Wast thou in truth conjoined with Mars?

Did thy fair hands his shield embrace,

The surface of whose golden bars

Grew lovely from thy mirrored face?

Or was it some bright scroll of fame

Thus poised on thine extended knee,

Upon which thou didst trace the name

Of that fierce god so dear to thee?

Whate’er thou hadst, no mere delight

Was thine, the glittering prize to hold;

Not thine the form which met thy sight

Replying from the burnished gold!

Unmindful what thy hands retained,

Thy gaze was fixed beyond, above;

Some dearer object held enchained

The goddess of immortal love!

We mark the motion of thine eyes

And smile,—for heldst thou shield or scroll,

A tender love-glance we surprise

Which tells the secret of thy soul!