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Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardy M. Cook
Peer Reviewed

Venus and Adonis (Modern)


At this Adonis smiles as in disdain,
That in each cheek appears a pretty dimple.
Love made those hollows, if himself were slain,
He might be buried in a tomb so simple,
245Foreknowing well, if there he came to lie,
Why, there love lived, and there he could not die.
These lovely caves, these round enchanting pits,
Opened their mouths to swallow Venus' liking.
Being mad before, how doth she now for wits?
250Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking?
Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn.
Now which way shall she turn? What shall she say?
Her words are done; her woes the more increasing.
255The time is spent; her object will away;
And from her twining arms doth urge releasing.
"Pity," she cries. "Some favor, some remorse."
Away he springs and hasteth to his horse.
But, lo, from forth a copse that neighbors by,
260A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud,
Adonis' trampling courser doth espy;
And forth she rushes, snorts, and neighs aloud.
The strong-necked steed, being tied unto a tree,
Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.
265Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
And now his woven girths he breaks asunder.
The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder.
The iron bit he crusheth 'tween his teeth,
270Controlling what he was controllèd with.