IN melancholy moonless Acheron, Far from the goodly earth and joyous day, Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery May Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor, Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets mate no more,
There by a dim and dark Lethaean well Young Charmides was lying, wearily He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel, And with its little rifled treasury Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream, And watched the white stars founder, and the land was like a dream,
When as he gazed into the watery glass And through his brown hair's curly tangles scanned His own wan face, a shadow seemed to pass Across the mirror, and a little hand Stole into his, and warm lips timidly Brushed his pale cheeks, and breathed their secret forth into a sigh.
Then turned he round his weary eyes and saw, And ever nigher still their faces came, And nigher ever did their young mouths draw Until they seemed one perfect rose of flame, And longing arms around her neck he cast, And felt her throbbing bosom, and his breath came hot and fast,
And all his hoarded sweets were hers to kiss, And all her maidenhood was his to slay, And limb to limb in long and rapturous bliss Their passion waxed and waned,--O why essay To pipe again of love too venturous reed! Enough, enough that Eros laughed upon that flowerless mead.
Too venturous poesy O why essay To pipe again of passion! fold thy wings O'er daring Icarus and bid thy lay Sleep hidden in the lyre's silent strings, Till thou hast found the old Castalian rill, Or from the Lesbian waters plucked drowned Sappho's golden quill!
Enough, enough that he whose life had been A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame, Could in the loveless land of Hades glean One scorching harvest from those fields of flame Where passion walks with naked unshod feet And is not wounded,--ah! enough that once their lips could meet
In that wild throb when all existences Seemed narrowed to one single ecstasy Which dies through its own sweetness and the stress Of too much pleasure, ere Persephone Had bade them serve her by the ebon throne Of the pale God who in the fields of Enna loosed her zone.