Poems and Ballads

Love at Sea

Imitated from Théophile Gautier

Algernon Charles Swinburne

WE ARE in love’s land to-day;
    Where shall we go?
Love, shall we start or stay,
    Or sail or row?
There’s many a wind and way,
And never a May but May;
We are in love’s hand to-day;
    Where shall we go?

Our landwind is the breath
    Of sorrows kissed to death
And joys that were;
    Our ballast is a rose;
Our way lies where God knows
    And love knows where.
        We are in love’s hand to-day—

Our seamen are fledged Loves,
    Our masts are bills of doves,
Our decks fine gold;
    Our ropes are dead maids’ hair,
Our stores are love-shafts fair
    And manifold.
        We are in love’s land to-day—

Where shall we land you, sweet?
    On fields of strange men’s feet,
Or fields near home?
    Or where the fire-flowers blow,
Or where the flowers of snow
    Or flowers of foam?
        We are in love’s hand to-day—

Land me, she says, where love
Shows but one shaft, one dove,
    One heart, one hand.
—A shore like that, my dear,
Lies where no man will steer,
    No maiden land.

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