Thursday, April 24, 2014

Like a Curled Sea-Shell

Ad Manus Puellae
by Ernest Dowson


I was always a lover of ladies' hands!
Or ever mine heart came here to tryst,
For the sake of your carved white hands' commands;
The tapering fingers, the dainty wrist;
The hands of a girl were what I kissed.

I remember an hand like a fleur-de-lys
When it slid from its silken sheath, her glove;
With its odours passing ambergris:
And that was the empty husk of a love.
Oh, how shall I kiss your hands enough?

They are pale with the pallor of ivories;
But they blush to the tips like a curled sea-shell:
What treasure, in kingly treasuries,
Of gold, and spice for the thurible,
Is sweet as her hands to hoard and tell?

I know not the way from your finger-tips,
Nor how I shall gain the higher lands,
The citadel of your sacred lips:
I am captive still of my pleasant bands,
The hands of a girl, and most your hands.

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