The Birth of Love. William Wordsworth – 1795.


Play an audio version of this poem.

When Love was born of heavenly line,
What dire intrigues disturbed Cythera's joy!
Till Venus cried, 'A mother's heart is mine;
None but myself shall nurse my boy,'

But, infant as he was, the child
In that divine embrace enchanted lay;
And, by the beauty of the vase beguiled,
Forgot the beverage and pined away.

'And must my offspring languish in my sight?'
(Alive to all a mother's pain,
The Queen of Beauty thus her court addressed)
'No: Let the most discreet of all my train
Receive him to her breast:
Think all, he is the God of young delight.'

Then tenderness with candour joined,
And gaeity the charming office sought;
Nor even delicacy stayed behind:
But none of those fair Graces brought

Wherewith to nurse the child, and still he pined.
Some fond hearts to compliance seemed inclined;
But she had surely spoiled the boy:
And sad experience forbade a thought
On the wild Goddess of voluptuous joy.

Long undecided lay th' important choice,
Till of the beauteous court, at length, a voice
Pronounced the name of hope: The conscious child
Stretched forth his little arms, and smiled.

'Tis said enjoyment (who averred
The charge belonged to her alone)
Jealous that hope had been preferred
Laid snares to make the babe her own.

Of innocence the garb she took,
The blushing mien and downcast look;
And came her services to proffer:
And hope (what has not Hope believed!)
By that seducing air deceived,
Accepted of the offer.

It happened that, to sleep inclined,
Deluded hope: for one short hour
To that false innocence's power
Her little charge consigned.

The Goddess then her lap with sweetmeats filled
And gave, in handfuls gave, the treacherous store:
A wild delirium first the infant thrilled;
But soon upon her breast he sunk, to wake no more.

Poet's Corner

Like so many, my first contact with poetry was at school. In my teens I tried my hand at poetry and found that I rather enjoyed it. As a musician, poetry enabled me to write songs - really cool to be a teenager and strumming out your own songs (badly in my case) on the guitar. I decided to build this site alongside a corresponding YouTube channel (Poets' Corner) and include both a narrated version of each poem along with the printed version. Having always loved (and many times visited) The Lake District in northwest England it seemed only right to start with Wiliam Wordsworth and, once I've created a significant body of his work, I'll start working on other poets.

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