Percy Bysshe Shelley

(1792-1822 / Horsham / England)

Homer's Hymn To Venus Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley


Muse, sing the deeds of golden Aphrodite,
Who wakens with her smile the lulled delight
Of sweet desire, taming the eternal kings
Of Heaven, and men, and all the living things
That fleet along the air, or whom the sea,
Or earth, with her maternal ministry,
Nourish innumerable, thy delight
All seek ... O crowned Aphrodite!
Three spirits canst thou not deceive or quell:--
Minerva, child of Jove, who loves too well
Fierce war and mingling combat, and the fame
Of glorious deeds, to heed thy gentle flame.
Diana ... golden-shafted queen,
Is tamed not by thy smiles; the shadows green
Of the wild woods, the bow, the...
And piercing cries amid the swift pursuit
Of beasts among waste mountains,--such delight
Is hers, and men who know and do the right.
Nor Saturn’s first-born daughter, Vesta chaste,
Whom Neptune and Apollo wooed the last,
Such was the will of aegis-bearing Jove;
But sternly she refused the ills of Love,
And by her mighty Father’s head she swore
An oath not unperformed, that evermore
A virgin she would live mid deities
Divine: her father, for such gentle ties
Renounced, gave glorious gifts--thus in his hall
She sits and feeds luxuriously. O’er all
In every fane, her honours first arise
From men--the eldest of Divinities.

These spirits she persuades not, nor deceives,
But none beside escape, so well she weaves
Her unseen toils; nor mortal men, nor gods
Who live secure in their unseen abodes.
She won the soul of him whose fierce delight
Is thunder--first in glory and in might.
And, as she willed, his mighty mind deceiving,
With mortal limbs his deathless limbs inweaving,
Concealed him from his spouse and sister fair,
Whom to wise Saturn ancient Rhea bare.
but in return,
In Venus Jove did soft desire awaken,
That by her own enchantments overtaken,
She might, no more from human union free,
Burn for a nursling of mortality.
For once amid the assembled Deities,
The laughter-loving Venus from her eyes

Shot forth the light of a soft starlight smile,
And boasting said, that she, secure the while,
Could bring at Will to the assembled Gods
The mortal tenants of earth’s dark abodes,
And mortal offspring from a deathless stem
She could produce in scorn and spite of them.
Therefore he poured desire into her breast
Of young Anchises,
Feeding his herds among the mossy fountains
Of the wide Ida’s many-folded mountains,--
Whom Venus saw, and loved, and the love clung
Like wasting fire her senses wild among.

Submitted: Thursday, April 1, 2010

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