Love at Sea

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Imitated from Théophile Gautier


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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