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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 cake she kneaded was the savoury meat:
But fruits their odour lost, and meats their taste,
If gentle Abra had not deck'd the feast.
Dishonour’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 enthrall my mind:
Why may not peace and love for once be join'd?
Great Heaven how frail thy creature man is
How by himself insensibly betray'd : [made!
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 :
Then in the flowery mead, or verdant shade,
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;
And swift into the boundless ocean borne,
Our foolish confidence too late we mourn ;
Round our devoted heads the billows beat,
And from our troubled view the lessen’d lands
O mighty love 1 from thy unbounded power
How shall the human bosom rest secure ?
How shall our thought avoid the various snare?
Or wisdom to our caution’d soul declare
The different shapes, thou pleasest to employ,
When bent to hurt, and certain to destroy P
The haughty nymph, in open beauty drest,
To-day encounters our unguarded breast:
She looks with majesty, and moves with state ;
Unbent her soul, and in misfortunes great,
She scorns the world, and dares the rage of fate.
Here whilst we take stern manhood for our guide,
And guard our conduct with becoming pride;
Charm'd with her courage in her action shown,
We praise her mind, the image of our own.
She that can please is certain to persuade :
To day belov'd, to-morrow is obey'd.
We think we see through reason's optics right,
Nor find how beauty's rays elude our sight:
Struck with her eye, whilst we applaud our mind,
And when we speak her great, we wish her kind.
To-morrow, cruel power! thou arm'st the fair
With flowing sorrow, and dishevell'd hair;
Sad her complaint, and humble is her tale,
Her sighs explaining where her accents fail.
Here generous softness warms the honest breast.
We raise the sad, and succour the distress'd.
And whilst our wish prepares the kind relief,
Whilst pity mitigates her rising grief,
We sicken soon from her contagious care,
Grieve for her sorrows, groan for her despair;
And against love too late those bosoms arm,
Which tears can soften, and which sighs can warm
Against this nearest cruelest of foes,
What shall wit meditate, or force oppose?
Whence, feeble nature, shall we summon aid,
If by our pity and our pride betray'd :
External remedy shall we hope to find, [mind;
When the close fiend has gain'd our treacherous
Insulting there does reason's power deride,
And blind himself, conducts the dazzled guide?
My conqueror now, my lovely Abra, held
My freedom in her chains; my heart was fill’d
With her, with her alone: in her alone -
It sought its peace and joy: while she was gone,
It sigh'd, and griev'd, impatient of her stay:
Return'd, she chas'd those sighs, that grief away:
Her absence made the night, her presence brought
The ball, the play, the mask by turns succeed:
For her I make the song, the dance with her I lead.
I court her various in each shape and dress
That luxury may form, or thought express.
To-day, beneath the palm tree on the plains,
In Deborah's arms and habit Abra reigns:
The wreath denoting conquest guides her brow,
And low, like Barak, at her feet I bow.
The mimic chorus sings her prosperous hand,
As she had slain the foe, and sav'd the land.
To-morrow she approves a softer air,
Forsakes the pomp and pageantry of war;
The form of peaceful Abigail assumes,
And from the village with the present comes:
The youthful band depose their glittering arms,
Receive her bounties, and recite her charms;
Whilst I assume my father's step and mien,
To meet with due regard my future queen.
If haply Abra's will be now inclin'd
To range the woods, or chase the flying hind,
Soon as the sun awakes, the sprightly court
Leave their repose, and hasten to the sport.
In lessen’d royalty, and humble state,
Thy king, Jerusalem, descends to wait
Till Abra comes. She comes: a milk-white steed,
Mixture of Persia's and Arabia's breed,
Sustains the nymph : her garments flying loose
(As the Sidonian maids, or Thracian use),
And half her knee, and half her breast appear,
By art, like negligence, disclos'd, and bare.
Her left hand guides the hunting courser's flight;
A silver bow she carries in her right;
And from the golden quiver at her side
Rustles the ebon arrow's feather'd pride.
Sapphires and diamonds on her front display
An artificial moon's increasing ray.
Diana, huntress, mistress of the groves,
The favourite Abra speaks, and looks, and moves
Her, as the present goddess, I obey:
Beneath her feet the captive game I lay,
The mingled chorus sings Diana's fame:
Clarions and horns in louder peals proclaim
Her mystic praise: the vocal triumphs bound
Against the hills: the hills reflect the sound.
If, tir'd this evening with the hunted woods,
To the large fish pools, or the glassy floods,