Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Venus and Adonis (Modern)

The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens. (O, how quick is love!)
The steed is stallèd up, and even now
40To tie the rider she begins to prove.
Backward she pushed him, as she would be thrust,
And governed him in strength, though not in lust.
So soon was she along as he was down,
Each leaning on their elbows and their hips.
45Now doth she stroke his cheek, now doth he frown
And 'gins to chide, but soon she stops his lips,
And kissing speaks, with lustful language broken,
"If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open."
He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears
50Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks.
Then with her windy sighs and golden hairs
To fan and blow them dry again she seeks.
He saith she is immodest, blames her miss;
What follows more, she murders with a kiss.
55Even as an empty eagle, sharp by fast,
Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh, and bone,
Shaking her wings, devouring all in haste,
Till either gorge be stuffed or prey be gone,
Even so she kissed his brow, his cheek, his chin,
60And where she ends, she doth anew begin.
Forced to content, but never to obey,
Panting he lies and breatheth in her face.
She feedeth on the steam as on a prey
And calls it heavenly moisture, air of grace,
65Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers,
So they were dewed with such distilling showers.