Octopus

Original Text: 
The Works of Arthur Clement Hilton (Of Marlborough & Cambridge) Author of "The Light Green" Together with his Life and Letters, ed. Robert P. Edgcumbe (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1902): 159-60. PR 4790 H27A12 Robarts Library
By Algernon Charles Sin-Burn
2    Whence camest to dazzle our eyes?
3With thy bosom bespangled and banded
4    With the hues of the seas and the skies;
5Is thy home European or Asian,
6    O mystical monster marine?
7Part molluscous and partly crustacean,
8    Betwixt and between.
9Wast thou born to the sound of sea trumpets?
10    Hast thou eaten and drunk to excess
11Of the sponges -- thy muffins and crumpets,
12    Of the seaweed -- thy mustard and cress?
13Wast thou nurtured in caverns of coral,
14    Remote from reproof or restraint?
15Art thou innocent, art thou immoral,
17Lithe limbs, curling free, as a creeper
18    That creeps in a desolate place,
19To enroll and envelop the sleeper
20    In a silent and stealthy embrace,
21Cruel beak craning forward to bite us,
22    Our juices to drain and to drink,
24    Indelible ink!
25O breast, that 'twere rapture to writhe on!
26    O arms 'twere delicious to feel
27Clinging close with the crush of the Python,
28    When she maketh her murderous meal!
29In thy eight-fold embraces enfolden,
30    Let our empty existence escape,
31Give us death that is glorious and golden,
32    Crushed all out of shape!
33Ah! thy red lips, lascivious and luscious,
34    With death in their amorous kiss,
35Cling round us, and clasp us, and crush us,
36    With bitings of agonised bliss;
37We are sick with the poison of pleasure,
38    Dispense us the potion of pain;
39Ope thy mouth to its uttermost measure
40    And bite us again!

Notes

1] A parody of Algernon Charles Swinburne's "Dolores" that Hilton wrote at the Crystal Palace Aquarium in London. Back to Line
16] Sinburnian: a play on the presumed poet's (and Swinburne's) name and the words "sin" and "burn." Back to Line
23] Cocytus: river of Epirus and, in classical poetry, a river of lamentation in Hades. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1872
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Rhyme: