Come close and see her hearken. This is she.
    Stop the ways fast against the stench that nips
    Your nostril as it nears her. Lo, the lips
That between prayer and prayer find time to be
Poisonous, the hands holding a cup and key,
    Key of deep hell, cup whence blood reeks and drips;
    The loose lewd limbs, the reeling hingeless hips,
The scurf that is not skin but leprosy.
This haggard harlot grey of face and green
    With the old hand's cunning mixes her new priest
The cup she mixed her Nero, stirred and spiced.
    She lisps of Mary and Jesus Nazarene
With a tongue tuned, and head that bends to the east,
    Praying. There are those who say she is the bride of Christ.

Other Poems from Dirae

Punch Caricatures and other related material


The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 6 volumes, London: Chatto & Windus, 1904. II, 298. [Scanned by George P. Landow]

Last modified 2 November 2003