I have chosen the following love poem from Stenbock’s collection Myrtle, Rue and Cypress, recently reprinted by S N Books World (Delhi, India) from a 1992 Hermitage Books reprinting of the original Hatchards 1883 edition. The Latin subtitle is inspired by the starting verse of the Canticle of Canticles of Solomon in the Bible: “Osculetur me osculo oris sui quia meliora sunt ubera tua vino,” which translates as “Let her kiss me with the kiss of her mouth; for thy breasts are better than wine.” The first two verses indeed follow it, replacing “breasts” by “love” (since the beloved was probably a boy).
As the gender of the beloved is well concealed (Stenbock being an adept of “The Love that dare not speak its name”), I will fantasise that the poem can be addressed to a young girl …
‘Osculet me osculis oris sui.’
AH, kiss me with the kisses of thy mouth,
Thy love is sweeter to mine heart than wine,
Sweeter than sleep from some strange anodyne,
Sweeter than spices, gathered in the South,
Or hidden well-water in time of drouth;
And let thine arms about mine head entwine,
Mine own belovèd, seeing thou art mine,
And kiss me with the kisses of thy mouth.
Ah sweet, mine heart is ravished utterly
By thy fair body fashioned without fleck,
By one long look that limmereth from thine eye,
By one long lock that leaneth down thy neck.
Kiss me with kisses, love, I faint, I pine,
Thy love is sweeter to mine heart than wine.
Note: Three more poems from Myrtle, Rue and Cypress have been reproduced on Frank T. Zumbachs Mysterious World.