The Venus of Milo

Alfred Noyes

Backward she leans, as when the rose unblown
Slides white from its warm sheath some morn in May!
Under the sloping waist, aslant, her zone
Clings as it slips in tender disarray;
One knee, out-thrust a little, keeps it so
Lingering ere it fall; her lovely face
Gazes as o'er her own Eternity!
Those armless radiant shoulders, long ago
Perchance held arms out wide with yearning grace
For Adon by the blue Sicilian sea.

No; thou eternal fount of these poor gleams,
Bright axle-star of the wheeling temporal skies,
Daughter of blood and foam and deathless dreams,
Mother of flying Love that never dies,
To thee, the topmost and consummate flower,
The last harmonic height, our dull desires
And our tired souls in dreary discord climb;
The flesh forgets its pale and wandering fires;
We gaze through heaven as from an ivory tower
Shining upon the last dark shores of Time.

White culmination of the dreams of earth,
Thy splendour beacons to a loftier goal,
Where, slipping earthward from the great new birth,
The shadowy senses leave the essential soul!
Oh, naked loveliness, not yet revealed,
A moment hence that falling robe will show
No prophecy like this, this great new dawn,
The bare bright breasts, each like a soft white shield,
And the firm body like a slope of snow
Out of the slipping dream-stuff half withdrawn.

The Venus de Milo is a Greek statue dating from around 100 BC. Found on the island of Milos, it is thought to be of the goddess Aphrodite. The statue has long been displayed in the Louvre and is currently in room 12 of the Greek Antiquities section of the museum.