(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

Louisa To Strephon

Ah! Strephon, how can you despise
Her, who without thy pity dies!
To Strephon I have still been true,
And of as noble blood as you;
Fair issue of the genial bed,
A virgin in thy bosom bred:
Embraced thee closer than a wife;
When thee I leave, I leave my life.
Why should my shepherd take amiss,
That oft I wake thee with a kiss?
Yet you of every kiss complain;
Ah! is not love a pleasing pain?
A pain which every happy night
You cure with ease and with delight;
With pleasure, as the poet sings,
Too great for mortals less than kings.
Chloe, when on thy breast I lie,
Observes me with revengeful eye:
If Chloe o'er thy heart prevails,
She'll tear me with her desperate nails;
And with relentless hands destroy
The tender pledges of our joy.
Nor have I bred a spurious race;
They all were born from thy embrace.
Consider, Strephon, what you do;
For, should I die for love of you,
I'll haunt thy dreams, a bloodless ghost;
And all my kin, (a numerous host,)
Who down direct our lineage bring
From victors o'er the Memphian king;
Renown'd in sieges and campaigns,
Who never fled the bloody plains:
Who in tempestuous seas can sport,
And scorn the pleasures of a court;
From whom great Sylla found his doom,
Who scourged to death that scourge of Rome,
Shall on thee take a vengeance dire;
Thou like Alcides shalt expire,
When his envenom'd shirt he wore,
And skin and flesh in pieces tore.
Nor less that shirt, my rival's gift,
Cut from the piece that made her shift,
Shall in thy dearest blood be dyed,
And make thee tear thy tainted hide.

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Comments (4)

Many great details of the universe in this write. Whitmans love for nature is evident in this write. Enthralling.
Whitman has such a wonderful feel and melody - words so well written and composed. But this is perhaps a bit too long for me - the daily reader - perhaps more for students who have time to study the assonance Whitman pulls from thin air. As a browser though I must say the first few stanzas exhausted my time.
Under Thee only they harvest- even but a wisp of hay, under thy great face, only; Harvest the wheat of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin- every barbed spear, under thee; Great poet and great the poetic talent. Always feel quiet submissive with the radiation of such uttered words.
Long well written poem.