Poems and Ballads

A Cameo

Algernon Charles Swinburne

THERE WAS a graven image of Desire
        Painted with red blood on a ground of gold
        Passing between the young men and the old,
And by him Pain, whose body shone like fire,
And Pleasure with gaunt hands that grasped their hire.
        Of his left wrist, with fingers clenched and cold,
        The insatiable Satiety kept hold,
Walking with feet unshod that pashed the mire.
The senses and the sorrows and the sins,
        And the strange loves that suck the breasts of Hate
Till lips and teeth bite in their sharp indenture,
Followed like beasts with flap of wings and fins.
        Death stood aloof behind a gaping grate,
Upon whose lock was written Peradventure.

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