Extract from - The Sphinx: A Conversation

The Three: What is thy desire, O Sphinx? Thou knowest we are thine, body and soul, forever! The Sphinx (with a shiver of her bronze wings): I desire, but what I desire I know not. In Ethiopia mine eyes were once freighted with a terrible dream. I slept. When I re-opened them there lay on my breasts a strange, flower-faced youth who whispered maleficent things to me and clung to my lips, beseeching me to tell him my secret. But I dared not--ah, I dared not!

The Three: Wherefore not, O Sphinx? Why didst thou not disclose thy secret?

The Sphinx (she moans and her eyes become iridescent): In Carchedonia the wasted young King came to me with his treasure of sapphires, chrysolites, amethysts, opals, beryls, terebinths, topazes, and male rubies. Likewise with him came the incestuous Suffete of Epirus. And when they saw me they hated one another so that their venom knew no bounds. But I had prefigured that whatsoever might transpire these two evil souls were mine, and in the morning I found them dead at my feet.

The Three: Wonderful, that this should happen, O Sphinx.

The Sphinx: At Colchis the snowy elders came to me by moonlight with their staves of satyrion. And they wept bitterly, crying, Woe be upon us! Our young men and our youths have forsaken their women and lie in effimacy together. Some have dyed their hair with saffron; some have painted their lips with vermilion and their eyes with antimony. They drink the infamous Gnidian wine and on their brows are bound chaplets of vine-leaves and violets. When we spoke to them they arose from their porphyry benches with flagons of silver and jeered at our anger. When we departed they postured and mocked at our wrinkled eld. And I said, Bring your young men and your youths hither. So they came to me crowned with red roses, their bodies veiled only with thinnest veils of hyacinth. Yet even as they gazed at me they became men with the desires of men and casting their diaphanous coverings before them, abode with me all that marvellous night. In the yellow dawn they went their way.

The Three: We too, O mighty Sphinx, have ministered devoutly to Love in our several ways. Yet we found it all too brief and bitter saving our unquenchable passion for thee.

The Sphinx: Tell me thereof, since I profit by all men's tales. Through the papyrus-leaves I see the world but I am almost forgotten and men already say that I grow old. Yet listen! In my heart there is still the burden of wild joys and the antique pageantry of an elder existence. I have been beloved of the black Antinuous. Together we drank the violet wine of the gods-together we swore everlasting fealty. Serapion has fondled me with his scarlet python, yet was I fearless of its venom. I seduced Iolaus before ever the comely nymphs from his Titan-lover, Hercules!