Lesbia's Daughter

LESBIA'S daughter, I shall tell no lie,
Here's no fit amber for such a dainty fly.
Let them embalm your beauty whoso can
In boastful odes, I'm a more honest man.
Lovers' abodes with poets' words are paved,
But prudent girls would get those vows engraved,
For brass than paper being something stronger
May last, it's more than like, a fortnight longer.
Where's the fine music that the fossil men
Of lost Lemuria brandished on a pen?
All tossed in earth—men, music, lovers gone—
And where's the lust a skull has for a bone?
If joy can turn a moment to a year,
Why take to Then and There what's meant for Here,
Or nurture for a cemetery tense
The curious pleasures of impermanence?
Look for no lovers on that later scene,
Let it avail you Are, who shall have Been,
Burnt utterly the stick you had to burn,
Lived once, loved well, gave thanks, and won't return.

by Kenneth Slessor

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