SALOME: Thy hair is horrible. it is covered with mire and dust. It is like a crown of thorns which they have placed on thy forehead. It is like a knot of black serpent writhing round thy neck. I love not thy hair…It is thy mouth that I desire, Jokanaan. Thy mouth is like a band of scarlet on a tower of ivory. It is like pomegranate cut with a knife of ivory. The pomegranate-flowers that blossom in the gardens of Tyre, and are redder than roses, are not so red. The red blasts of trumpets that herald that approach of kings, and make afraid the enemy, are not so red. Thy mouth is redder than the feet of those who tread the wine in the wine-press. Thy mouth is redder than the feet of the doves who haunt the temples and are fed by the priests. it is redder than the feet of him who cometh from the forest where he hath slain a lion, and seen gilded tigers. Thy mouth is like a branch of coral that fishers have found in the twilight of the sea, the coral that they keep for the kings!…it is like the vermilion that the kings take from them. It is like the bow of the King of the Persians, that is painted with vermilion, and is tipped with coral. There is nothing in the world so red as thy mouth…Let me kiss thy mouth.
[“The Peacock Skirt”, illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé (1892)]