Tepidarium | A poem by Jose Maria de Heredia, 1842-1905

Ivan Serpa Goauche 1956

Ivan Serpa, Goauche, 1956

O’er their soft limbs has myrrh its fragrance shed;
And bathed in warmth beneath December’s skies
They dream, while the bronze lamp with flaming eyes
Throws light and shadow on each beauteous head.

On byssus cushions of empurpled bed
Some amber, rosy figure nerveless tries
To stretch, or bend, or from the couch to rise,
Where linen’s folds voluptuously spread.

In nakedness, exhaling ardent fume,
An Asian woman mid the heated room
Twines her smooth arms in pliant, languorous play;

Ausonius’ daughters, mad with ecstasy,
Drink in the rich and savage harmony,
As over blushless bust their dark locks stray.

Jose Maria de Heredia, Tepidarium, 1842-1905

The tepidarium was the warm bathroom of the Roman baths heated by a hypocaust or underfloor heating system.


Marie de Régnier / Nude | Photos by Pierre Louÿs, 1898

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