Homer's Hymn to Venus
Published by Garnett, "Relics of Shelley", 1862; dated 1818.
Verses 1-55, with some omissions.
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.