The Birth of Venus

Image: Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (ca. 1482-1485). Tempera on canvas. 172.5 x 278.9 cm. © The Uffizi, Florence. Room 10-14. http://www.uffizi.org/artworks/the-birth-of-venus-by-sandro-botticelli/,  5 August 2015.

Sandro Botticelli

The Uffizi
 

FRILLS of brimming wavelets lap 
Round a shell that is a boat ; 
Roses fly like birds and float 
Down the crisp air ; garments flap : 
Midmost of the breeze, with locks 
In possession of the wind, 
Coiling hair in loosened shocks, 
Sways a girl who seeks to bind 
New-born beauty with a tress 
Gold about her nakedness. 

And her chilled, wan body sweet 
Greets the ruffled cloak of rose, 
Daisy-stitched, that Flora throws 
Toward her ere she set her feet 
On the green verge of the world : 
Flora, with the corn-flower dressed, 
Round her neck a rose-spray curled 
Flowerless, wild-rose at her breast, 
To her goddess hastes to bring 
The wide chiton of the spring. 

While from ocean, breathing hard, 
With sole pressure toward the bay,— 
Olive raiment, pinions grey 
By clipt rose-stems thinly starred, 
Zephyrus and Boreas pass, 
One in wonder, one desire : 
And the cool sea's dawnlit mass 
Boreas' foot has lifted higher, 
As he blows the shell to land,
Where the reed invades the sand. 

She who treads the rocking shell— 
Tearful shadow in her eyes 
Of reluctant sympathies, 
On her mouth a pause, a spell, 
Candour far too lone to speak 
And no knowledge on her brows ; 
Virgin stranger, come to seek 
Covert of strong orange-boughs 
By the sea-wind scarcely moved,— 
She is Love that hath not loved.

Sandro Botticelli

The Uffizi
 

FRILLS of brimming wavelets lap 
Round a shell that is a boat ; 
Roses fly like birds and float 
Down the crisp air ; garments flap : 
Midmost of the breeze, with locks 
In possession of the wind, 
Coiling hair in loosened shocks, 
Sways a girl who seeks to bind 
New-born beauty with a tress 
Gold about her nakedness. 

And her chilled, wan body sweet 
Greets the ruffled cloak of rose, 
Daisy-stitched, that Flora throws 
Toward her ere she set her feet 
On the green verge of the world : 
Flora, with the corn-flower dressed, 
Round her neck a rose-spray curled 
Flowerless, wild-rose at her breast, 
To her goddess hastes to bring 
The wide chiton of the spring. 

While from ocean, breathing hard, 
With sole pressure toward the bay,— 
Olive raiment, pinions grey 
By clipt rose-stems thinly starred, 
Zephyrus and Boreas pass, 
One in wonder, one desire : 
And the cool sea's dawnlit mass 
Boreas' foot has lifted higher, 
As he blows the shell to land,
Where the reed invades the sand. 

She who treads the rocking shell— 
Tearful shadow in her eyes 
Of reluctant sympathies, 
On her mouth a pause, a spell, 
Candour far too lone to speak 
And no knowledge on her brows ; 
Virgin stranger, come to seek 
Covert of strong orange-boughs 
By the sea-wind scarcely moved,— 
She is Love that hath not loved.