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Nor speech they meditate, nor answer frame,
(Too plain, alas! their silence spake their shame)
Till one, in whom an outward mien appear'd,
And turn superior to the vulgar herd,
Began: That human learning's furthest reach
Was but to note the doctrine I could teach;
That mine to speak, and theirs was to obey;
For I in knowledge more than power did sway:
And the astonish'd world in me beheld
Moses eclips'd, and Jesse's son excell'd.
Humble a second bow'd, and took the word;
Foresaw my name by future age ador'd:
"O live," said he, "thou wisest of the wise;
As none has equall'd, none shall ever rise
Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds,
Pernicious Flattery! thy malignant seeds,
In an ill hour, and by a fatal hand,
Sadly diffus'd o'er Virtue's gleby land,
With rising pride amidst the corn appear,
And choke the hopes and harvest of the year.
And now the whole perplex'd ignoble crowd,
Mute to my questions, in my praises loud,
Echo'd the word: whence things arose, or how
They thus exist, the aptest nothing know:
What yet is not, but is ordain'd to be,
All veil of doubt apart, the dullest see!
My prophets and my sophists finish'd here
The civil efforts of the verbal war:
Not so my rabbins and logicians yield;
Retiring, still they combat; from the field
Of open arms unwilling they depart,
And skulk behind the subterfuge of art.
To speak one thing, mix'd dialects they join,
Divide the simple, and the plain define:
Fix fancied laws, and form imagin'd rules,
Terms of their art, and jargon of their schools,
Ill-grounded maxims, by false gloss enlarg'd,
And captious science against reason charg'd.
Soon their crude notions with each other fought;
The adverse sect denied what this had taught;
And he at length the amplest triumph gain'd,
Who contradicted what the last maintain'd.
O wretched impotence of human mind!
We, erring still, excuse for error find,
And darkling grope, not knowing we are blind.
Vain man! since first thy blushing sire essay'd
His folly with connected leaves to shade,
How does the crime of thy resembling race
With like attempt that pristine error trace!
Too plain thy nakedness of soul espied,
Why dost thou strive the conscious shame to hide
By masks of eloquence and veils of pride?
With outward smiles their flattery I receiv'd, Own'd my sick mind by their discourse reliev'd; But bent, and inward to myself, again Perplex'd, these matters I revolv'd in vain. My search still tir'd, my labor still renew'd, At length I ignorance and knowledge view'd, Impartial; both in equal balance laid, Light flew the knowing scale, the doubtful heavy Forc'd by reflective reason, I confess, That human science is uncertain guess. Alas! we grasp at clouds, and beat the air, Vexing that spirit we intend to clear. Can thought beyond the bounds of matter climb? Or who shall tell me what is space or time? In vain we lift up our presumptuous eyes To what our Maker to their ken denies :
The searcher follows fast; the object faster flies.
The little which imperfectly we find,
Seduces only the bewilder'd mind
To fruitless search of something yet behind.
Various discussions tear our heated brain;
Opinions often turn; still doubts remain;
And who indulges thought, increases pain.
How narrow limits were to Wisdom given !
Earth she surveys; she thence would measure
Through mists obscure now wings her tedious way;
Now wanders dazzled with too bright a day;
And from the summit of a pathless coast
Sees infinite, and in that sight is lost.
Remember, that the curs'd desire to know,
Offspring of Adam! was thy source of woe.
Why wilt thou then renew the vain pursuit,
And rashly catch at the forbidden fruit;
With empty labor and eluded strife,
Seeking, by knowledge, to attain to life;
For ever from that fatal tree debarr'd,
Which flaming swords and angry cherubs guard?
Texts chiefly alluded to in Book II.
"I said in my own heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure."— ECCLES. chap. ii. ver. i.
"I made me great works, I builded me houses, I planted me vineyards."-Ver. 4.
"I made me gardens and orchards; and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits."-Ver. 5.
"I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees."-Ver. 6.
"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit; and there was no profit under the Sun."— Ver. 11.
"I gat me men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts."-Ver. 8.
"I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, (yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom) and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under Heaven all the days of their life."-Ver. 3. "Then I said in my heart, As it happeneth unto the fool, so it happeneth even unto me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity."-Ver. 15.
"Therefore I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the Sun is grievous unto me."
"Dead flies cause the ointment to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor."-Ch. x. ver. 1. "The memory of the just is blessed, but the memory of the wicked shall rot."-PROVERBS, ch. x. ver. 7.
Solomon, again seeking happiness, inquires if wealth and greatness can produce it; begins with the magnificence of gardens and buildings, the luxury of music and feasting; and proceeds to the hopes
and desires of love. In two episodes are shown Haunted my nights, and terrified my days; the follies and troubles of that passion. Solomon, Stalk'd through my gardens, and pursu'd my ways, still disappointed, falls under the temptations of Nor shut from artful bower, nor lost in winding libertinism and idolatry; recovers his thought;| reasons aright; and concludes, that, as to the pursuit of pleasure and sensual delight, All is vanity and vexation of spirit.
TRY then, O man, the moments to deceive,
That from the womb attend thee to the grave:
For wearied Nature find some apter scheme :
Health be thy hope, and Pleasure be thy theme.
From the perplexing and unequal ways,
Where study brings thee; from the endless maze,
Which doubt persuades to run, forewarn'd, recede
To the gay field and flowery path, that lead
To jocund mirth, soft joy, and careless ease:
Forsake what may instruct, for what may please;
Essay amusing art, and proud expense,
And make thy reason subject to thy sense.
I commun'd thus: the power of wealth I tried,
And all the various luxe of costly pride;
Artists and plans reliev'd my solemn hours;
I founded palaces, and planted bowers;
Birds, fishes, beasts, of each exotic kind,
I to the limits of my court confin'd;
To trees transferr'd I gave a second birth,
And bade a foreign shade grace Judah's earth;
Fish-ponds were made, where former forests grew,
And hills were levell'd to extend the view;
Rivers diverted from their native course,
And bound with chains of artificial force,
From large cascades in pleasing tumult roll'd,
Or rose through figur'd stone, or breathing gold;
From furthest Africa's tormented womb
The marble brought, erects the spacious dome,
Or forms the pillars' long-extended rows,
Yet take thy bent, my soul; another sense Indulge; add music to magnificence: Essay if harmony may grief control, Or power of sound prevail upon the soul. Often our seers and poets have confest, That music's force can tame the furious beast: Can make the wolf, or foaming boar, restrain His rage; the lion drop his crested mane, Attentive to the song; the lynx forget His wrath to man, and lick the minstrel's feet. Are we, alas! less savage yet than these? Else music, sure, may human cares appease.
I spake my purpose; and the cheerful choir Parted their shares of harmony: the lyre Soften'd the timbrel's noise; the trumpet's sound Provok'd the Dorian flute (both sweeter found When mix'd); the fife the viol's notes refin'd, And every strength with every grace was join'd. Each morn they wak'd me with a sprightly lay; Of opening Heaven they sung and gladsome day. Each evening their repeated skill express'd Scenes of repose, and images of rest: Yet still in vain; for music gather'd thought: But how unequal the effects it brought! The soft ideas of the cheerful note, Lightly receiv'd, were easily forgot; The solemn violence of the graver sound Knew to strike deep, and leave a lasting wound. And now reflecting, I with grief descry
The sickly lust of the fantastic eye;
How the weak organ is with seeing cloy'd,
Flying ere night what it at noon enjoy'd.
And now (unhappy search of thought!) I found
On which the planted grove, the pensile garden, The fickle ear soon glutted with the sound,
The workmen here obey the master's call, To gild the turret, and to paint the wall, To mark the pavement there with various stone, And on the jasper steps to rear the throne: The spreading cedar, that an age had stood, Supreme of trees, and mistress of the wood, Cut down and carv'd, my shining roof adorns, And Lebanon his ruin'd honor mourns.
A thousand artists show their cunning power, To raise the wonders of the ivory tower. A thousand maidens ply the purple loom, To weave the bed, and deck the regal room; Till Tyre confesses her exhausted store, That on her coast the murex* is no more; Till from the Parian isle, and Libya's coast, The mountains grieve their hopes of marble lost; And India's woods return their just complaint, Their brood decay'd, and want of elephant. My full design with vast expense achiev'd, I came, beheld, admir'd, reflected, griev'd; I chid the folly of my thoughtless haste, For, the work perfected, the joy was past.
To my new courts sad Thought did still repair, And round my gilded roofs hung hovering Care. In vain on silken beds I sought repose, And restless oft from purple couches rose ; Vexatious Thought still found my flying mind Nor bound by limits, nor to place confin'd;
The murex is a shell-fish, of the liquor whereof a purple color is made.
Condemn'd eternal changes to pursue,
Tir'd with the last, and eager of the new.
I bade the virgins and the youth advance,
To temper music with the sprightly dance.
In vain! too low the mimic motions seem;
What takes our heart must merit our esteem.
Nature, I thought, perform'd too mean a part,
Forming her movements to the rules of art;
And, vex'd, I found that the musician's hand
Had o'er the dancer's mind too great command.
I drank; I lik'd it not; 'twas rage, twas noise,
An airy scene of transitory joys
In vain I trusted that the flowing bowl
Would banish sorrow, and enlarge the soul.
To the late revel, and protracted feast,
Wild dreams succeeded, and disorder'd rest;
And as, at dawn of morn, fair Reason's light
Broke through the fumes and phantoms of the night,
What had been said, I ask'd my soul, what done?
How flow'd our mirth, and whence the source begun?
Perhaps the jest that charm'd the sprightly crowd,
And made the jovial table laugh so loud,
To some false notion ow'd its poor pretence,
To an ambiguous word's perverted sense,
To a wild sonnet, or a wanton air,
Offence and torture to the sober ear:
Perhaps, alas! the pleasing stream was brought
From this man's error, from another's fault;
From topics, which good-nature would forget,
And prudence mention with the last regret.
Add yet unnumber'd ills, that lie unseen
In the pernicious draught; the word obscene
Or harsh, which, once elanc'd, must ever fly
Irrevocable; the too prompt reply,
Seed of severe distrust and fierce debate;
What we should shun, and what we ought to hate.
Add too the blood impoverish'd, and the course
Of health suppress'd, by wine's continual force.
Unhappy man! whom sorrow thus and rage
To different ills alternately engage;
Who drinks, alas! but to forget; nor sees
That melancholy sloth, severe disease,
Memory confus'd, and interrupted thought,
Death's harbingers, lie latent in the draught;
And, in the flowers that wreath the sparkling bowl,
Fell adders hiss, and poisonous serpents roll.
When she, with modest scorn, the wreath return'd
Reclin'd her beauteous neck, and inward mourn'd!
Forc'd by my pride, I my concern suppress'd,
Pretended drowsiness, and wish of rest:
And sullen I forsook th' imperfect feast,
Ordering the eunuchs, to whose proper care
Our eastern grandeur gives th' imprison'd fair,
To lead her forth to a distinguish'd bower,
And bid her dress the bed, and wait the hour.
Restless I follow'd this obdurate maid
(Swift are the steps that Love and Anger tread);
Approach'd her person, courted her embrace,
Renew'd my flame, repeated my disgrace;
By turns put on the suppliant and the lord;
Threaten'd this moment, and the next implor'd,
Offer'd again the unaccepted wreath,
And choice of happy love, or instant death.
Averse to all her amorous king desir'd,
Far as she might she decently retir'd;
And, darting scorn and sorrow from her eyes,
"What means," said she, "king Solomon the wise?
"This wretched body trembles at your power:
Thus far could Fortune, but she can no more.
Free to herself my potent mind remains,
Remains there aught untried that may remove
Sickness of mind, and heal the bosom ?-Love.
Love yet remains: indulge his genial fire,
Cherish fair hope, solicit young desire,
And boldly bid thy anxious soul explore
This last great remedy's mysterious power.
Why therefore hesitates my doubtful breast?
Why ceases it one moment to be blest?
"Fly swift, my friends; my servants, fly; employ
Your instant pains to bring your master joy.
Let all my wives and concubines be dress'd;
Let them to-night attend the royal feast;
All Israel's beauty, all the foreign fair;
The gifts of princes, or the spoils of war:
Before their monarch they shall singly pass,
And the most worthy shall obtain the grace."
I said: the feast was serv'd, the bowl was crown'd;
To the king's pleasure went the mirthful round.
The women came: as custom wills, they past:
On one (O that distinguish'd one!) I cast
The favorite glance! O! yet my mind retains
That fond beginning of my infant pains.
Mature the virgin was, of Egypt's race;
Grace shap'd her limbs, and beauty deck'd
Nor fears the victor's rage, nor feels his chains.
'Tis said, that thou canst plausibly dispute,
Supreme of seers! of angel, man, and brute;
Canst plead, with subtle wit and fair discourse,
Of passion's folly, and of reason's force;
That, to the tribes attentive, thou canst show
Whence their misfortunes or their blessings flow;
That thou in science as in power art great,
And truth and honor on thy edicts wait.
Where is that knowledge now, that regal thought,
With just advice and timely counsel fraught?
Where now, O judge of Israel! does it rove ?—
What in one moment dost thou offer? Love-
her Love! why 'tis joy or sorrow, peace or strife;
"Tis all the color of remaining life:
And human misery must begin or end,
As he becomes a tyrant or a friend.
Would David's son, religious, just, and grave,
To the first bride-bed of the world receive
A foreigner, a heathen, and a slave?
Or, grant thy passion has these names destroy'd,
That Love, like Death, makes all distinction void;
Yet in his empire o'er thy abject breast
His flames and torments only are exprest;
His rage can in my smiles alone relent,
And all his joys solicit my consent.
Easy her motion seem'd, serene her air;
Full, though unzon'd, her bosom rose; her hair,
Untied, and ignorant of artful aid,
Adown her shoulders loosely lay display'd,
And in the jetty curls ten thousand Cupids play'd.
Fix'd on her charms, and pleas'd that I could love,
"Aid me, my friends, contribute to improve
Your monarch's bliss," I said; "fresh roses bring
To strew my bed, till the impoverish'd Spring
Confess her want; around my amorous head
Be dropping myrrh and liquid amber shed,
Till Arab has no more. From the soft lyre,
Sweet flute, and ten-string'd instrument, require
Sounds of delight: and thou, fair nymph! draw
Thou, in whose graceful form and potent eye,
Thy master's joy, long sought, at length is found;
And, as thy brow, let my desires be crown'd;
O favorite virgin! that hast warm'd the breast,
Whose sovereign dictates subjugate the East!"
I said and sudden from the golden throne,
With a submissive step, I hasted down.
The glowing garland from my hair I took,
Love in my heart, obedience in my look;
Prepar'd to place it on her comely head:
"O favorite virgin!" yet again I said,
Receive the honors destin'd to thy brow; And O, above thy fellows, happy thou! Their duty must thy sovereign word obey: Rise up, my love, my fair-one, come away." What pangs, alas! what ecstacy of smart, Tore up my senses, and transfix'd my heart,
Soft love, spontaneous tree, its parted root
Must from two hearts with equal vigor shoot;
Whilst each, delighted and delighting, gives
The pleasing ecstacy which each receives:
Cherish'd with hope, and fed with joy, it grows;
Its cheerful buds their opening bloom disclose,
And round the happy soil diffusive odor flows.
If angry Fate that mutual care denies,
The fading plant bewails its due supplies;
Wild with despair, or sick with grief, it dies.
By force beasts act, and are by force restrain'd
The human mind by gentle means is gain'd.
Thy useless strength, mistaken king, employ :
Sated with rage, and ignorant of joy,
Thou shalt not gain what I deny to yield,
Nor reap the harvest, though thou spoild'st the field.
Know, Solomon, thy poor extent of sway;
Contract thy brow, and Israel shall obey:
But wilful Love thou must with smiles appease,
Approach his awful throne by just degrees,
And, if thou wouldst be happy, learn to please.
"Not that those arts can here successful prove, Entirely thus I find the fiend portray'd,
For I am destin'd to another's love.
Beyond the cruel bounds of thy command,
To my dear equal in my native land,
My plighted vow I gave; I his receiv'd:
Each swore with truth, with pleasure each believ'd.
The mutual contract was to Heaven convey'd ;
In equal scales the busy angels weigh'd
Since first, alas! I saw the beauteous maid.
I felt him strike, and now I see him fly:
Curs'd demon! O! for ever broken lie
Those fatal shafts, by which I inward bleed!
O! can my wishes yet o'ertake thy speed!
Tir'd may'st thou pant, and hang thy flagging wing,
Except thou turn'st thy course, resolv'd to bring
Its solemn force, and clapp'd their wings, and spread The damsel back, and save the love-sick king!"
The lasting roll, recording what we said.
"Now in my heart behold thy poniard stain'd; Take the sad life which I have long disdain'd; End, in a dying virgin's wretched fate, Thy ill-starr'd passion and my stedfast hate: For, long as blood informs these circling veins, Or fleeting breath its latest power retains, Hear me to Egypt's vengeful Gods declare, Hate is my part, be thine, O king, despair.
My soul thus struggling in the fatal net,
Unable to enjoy, or to forget;
I reason'd much, alas! but more I loy'd:
Sent and recall'd, ordain'd and disapprov'd;
Till, hopeless, plung'd in an abyss of grief,
I from necessity receiv'd relief:
Time gently aided to assuage my pain,
And Wisdom took once more the slacken'd rein.
But O, how short my interval of woe!
"Now strike," she said, and open'd bare her Our griefs how swift! our remedies how slow!
"Stand it in Judah's chronicles confest,
That David's son, by impious passion mov'd,
Smote a she-slave, and murder'd what he lov'd!"
Asham'd, confus'd, I started from the bed,
And to my soul, yet uncollected, said,
"Into thyself, fond Solomon, return;
Reflect again, and thou again shalt mourn.
When I through number'd years have Pleasure
And in vain hope the wanton phantom caught;
To mock my sense, and mortify my pride,
"Tis in another's power, and is denied.
Am I a king, great Heaven! does life or death
Hang on the wrath or mercy of my breath;
While kneeling I my servant's smiles implore,
And one mad damsel dares dispute my power?
"To ravish her! that thought was soon depress'd,
Which must debase the monarch to the beast.
To send her back! O whither, and to whom?
To lands where Solomon must never come?
To that insulting rival's happy arms,
For whom, disdaining me, she keeps her charms?
"Fantastic tyrant of the amorous heart,
How hard thy yoke! how cruel is thy dart!
Those 'scape thy anger, who refuse thy sway,
And those are punish'd most who most obey.
See Judah's king revere thy greater power:
What canst thou covet, or how triumph more?
Why then, O Love, with an obdurate ear,
Does this proud nymph reject a monarch's prayer?
Why to some simple shepherd does she run
From the fond arms of David's favorite son?
Why flies she from the glories of a court,
Where wealth and pleasure may thy reign support,
To some poor cottage on the mountain's brow,
Now bleak with winds, and cover'd now with snow,
Where pinching want must curb her warm desires,
And household cares suppress thy genial fires?
"Too aptly the afflicted Heathens prove
Thy force, while they erect the shrines of Love.
His mystic form the artisans of Greece
In wounded stone, or molten gold, express;
And Cyprus to his godhead pays her vow,
Fast in his hand the idol holds his bow;
A quiver by his side sustains his store
Of pointed darts; sad emblems of his power:
A pair of wings he has, which he extends
Now to be gone! which now again he bends,
Prone to return, as best may serve his wanton ends.
Another nymph, (for so did Heaven ordain,
To change the manner, but renew the pain,)
Another nymph, amongst the many fair,
That made my softer hours their solemn care,
Before the rest affected still to stand,
And watch'd my eye, preventing my command.
Abra, she so was call'd, did soonest haste
To grace my presence; Abra went the last;
Abra was ready ere I call'd her name;
And, though I call'd another, Abra came.
Her equals first observ'd her growing zeal, And, laughing, gloss'd, that Abra serv'd so well. To me her actions did unheeded die,
Or were remark'd but with a common eye;
Till more appriz'd of what the rumor said,
More I observ'd peculiar in the maid.
The Sun declined had shot his western ray,
When, tir'd with business of the solemn day,
I purpos'd to unbend the evening hours,
And banquet private in the women's bowers
I call'd, before I sat, to wash my hands
(For so the precept of the law commands):
Love had ordain'd, that it was Abra's turn
To mix the sweets, and minister the urn.
With awful homage and submissive dread,
The maid approach'd, on my declining head
To pour the oils; she trembled as she pour'd:
With an unguarded look she now devour'd
My nearer face! and now recall'd her eye,
And heav'd, and strove to hide, a sudden sigh.
And whence," said I, "canst thou have dread
What can thy imagery of sorrow mean?
Secluded from the world and all its care,
Hast thou to grieve or joy, to hope or fear?
For sure," I added, "sure thy little heart
Ne'er felt Love's anger, nor receiv'd his dart.”
Abash'd, she blush'd, and with disorder spoke Her rising shame adorn'd the words it broke
"If the great master will descend to hear The humble series of his handmaid's care; O! while she tells it, let him not put on The look, that awes the nations from the throne! O! let not death severe in glory lie In the king's frown, and terror of his eye! "Mine to obey, thy part is to ordain; And though to mention be to suffer pain, If the king smile whilst I my woe recite, If, weeping, I find favor in his sight, Flow fast, my tears, full rising his delight.
The wretched memory of my former pain, The dire affront, and my Egyptian chain.
"O! witness Earth beneath, and Heaven above! O! yet my tortur'd senses deep retain
For can I hide it? I am sick of love;
If madness may the name of passion bear,
Or love be call'd what is indeed despair.
"Thou Sovereign Power? whose secret will conThe inward bent and motion of our souls! Why hast thou plac'd such infinite degrees Between the cause and cure of my disease? The mighty object of that raging fire, In which unpitied Abra must expire, Had he been born some simple shepherd's heir, The lowing herd or fleecy sheep his care, At morn with him I o'er the hills had run, Scornful of winter's frost and summer's sun, Still asking where he made his flock to rest at noon. For him at night, the dear expected guest, I had with hasty joy prepar'd the feast; And from the cottage, o'er the distant plain, Sent forth my longing eye to meet the swain, Wavering, impatient, toss'd by hope and fear, Till he and joy together should appear, And the lov'd dog declare his master near. On my declining neck and open breast I should have lull'd the lovely youth to rest, And from beneath his head, at dawning day, With softest care have stol'n my arm away, To rise and from the fold release the sheep, Fond of his flock, indulgent to his sleep.
"Or if kind Heaven, propitious to my flame, (For sure from Heaven the faithful ardor came,) Had blest my life, and deck'd my natal hour With height of title, and extent of power; Without a crime my passion had aspir'd,
Found the lov'd prince, and told what I desir'd.
Then I had come, preventing Sheba's queen, To see the comeliest of the sons of men, To hear the charming poet's amorous song, And gather honey falling from his tongue, To take the fragrant kisses of his mouth, Sweeter than breezes of her native south, Likening his grace, his person, and his mien, To all that great or beauteous I had seen. Serene and bright his eyes, as solar beams Reflecting temper'd light from crystal streams; Ruddy as gold his cheek; his bosom fair As silver; the curl'd ringlets of his hair Black as the raven's wing; his lip more red Than eastern coral, or the scarlet thread; Even his teeth, and white like a young flock Coeval, newly shorn, from the clear brook Recent, and branching on the sunny rock. Ivory, with sapphires interspers'd, explains How white his hands, how blue the manly veins. Columns of polish'd marble, firmly set On golden bases, are his legs and feet; His stature all majestic, all divine, Straight as the palm-tree, strong as is the pine. Saffron and myrrh are on his garments shed, And everlasting sweets bloom round his head. What utter I! where am I wretched maid! Die, Abra, die too plainly hast thou said Thy soul's desire to meet his high embrace, And blessing stamp'd upon thy future race; To bid attentive nations bless thy womb,
"As time," I said, "may happily efface That cruel image of the king's disgrace, Imperial reason shall resume her seat, And Solomon, once fall'n, again be great. Betray'd by passion, as subdued in war, We wisely should exert a double care, Nor ever ought a second time to err." This Abra then
I saw her; 'twas humanity; it gave
Some respite to the sorrows of my slave.
Her fond excess proclaim'd her passion true,
And generous pity to that truth was due,
Well I entreated her, who well deserv'd;
I call'd her often, for she always serv'd.
Use made her person easy to my sight,
And ease insensibly produc'd delight.
Whene'er I revell'd in the women's bowers,
(For first I sought her but at looser hours)
The apples she had gather'd smelt most sweet,
The cakes she kneaded was the savory meat:
But fruits their odor lost, and meats their taste,
If gentle Abra had not deck'd the feast;
Dishonor'd did the sparkling goblet stand,
Unless receiv'd from gentle Abra's hand;
And, when the virgins form'd the evening choir,
Raising their voices to the master lyre,
Too flat I thought this voice, and that too shrill;
One show'd too much, and one too little skill;
Nor could my soul approve the music's tone,
Till all was hush'd, and Abra sung alone.
Fairer she seem'd distinguish'd from the rest,
And better mien disclos'd, as better drest.
A bright tiara, round her forehead tied,
To juster bounds confin'd its rising pride;
The blushing ruby on her snowy breast
Render'd its panting whiteness more confess'd;
Bracelets of pearl gave roundness to her arm,
And every gem augmented every charm.
Her senses pleas'd, her beauty still improv'd,
And she more lovely grew, as more belov'd.
And now I could behold, avow, and blame
The several follies of my former flame;
Willing my heart for recompense to prove
The certain joys that lie in prosperous love.
For what," said I, "from Abra can I fear,
Too humble to insult, too soft to be severe ?
The damsel's sole ambition is to please:
With freedom I may like, and quit with ease;
She soothes, but never can enthral my mind:
Why may not Peace and Love for once be join'd?
Great Heaven! how frail thy creature man i
How by himself insensibly betray'd!
In our own strength unhappily secure,
Too little cautious of the adverse power,
And by the blast of self-opinion mov'd,
We wish to charm, and seek to be belov'd.
On Pleasure's flowing brink we idly stray,
Masters as yet of our returning way;
Seeing no danger, we disarm our mind,
And give our conduct to the waves and wind:
With unborn monarchs charg'd, and Solomons to Then in the flowery mead, or verdant shade,
Here o'er her speech her flowing eyes prevail.
O foolish maid! and O unhappy tale!
My suffering heart for ever shall defy
New wounds and danger from a future eye.
To wanton dalliance negligently laid,
We weave the chaplet, and we crown the bowl,
And smiling see the nearer waters roll,
Till the strong gusts of raging passion rise.
Till the dire tempest mingles earth and skies: