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TO MY LORD BUCKHURST1

VERY YOUNG, PLAYING WITH A CAT.

THE amorous youth, whose tender breast
Was by his darling cat possest,
Obtained of Venus his desire,
Howe'er irregular his fire.
Nature the power of love obeyed;
The cat became a blushing maid;
And, on the happy change, the boy
Employed his wonder, and his joy.
Take care, O beauteous child, take care,
Lest thou prefer so rash a prayer: 10
Nor vainly hope, the queen of love
Will e'er thy favourite's charms improve.
O quickly from her shrine retreat;
Or tremble for thy darling's fate.
The queen of love, who soon will see
Her own Adonis live in thee,
Will lightly her first loss deplore;
Will easily forgive the boar:
Her eyes with tears no more will flow;
With jealous rage her breast will glow; 20
And on her tabby rival's face
She deep will mark her new disgrace.

AN ODE.

WHILE from our looks, fair nymph, you guess
The secret passions of our mind,

My heavy eyes, you say, confess
A heart to love and grief inclined.

1 Lionel, Duke of Dorset, to whom Prior dedicated the first edition of his

poems.

2 There needs, alas! but little art,
To have this fatal secret found;
With the same ease you threw the dart,
'Tis certain you may show the wound.

3 How can I see you, and not love,
While you as opening east are fair?
While cold as northern blasts you prove,
How can I love, and not despair!

4 The wretch in double fetters bound

Your potent mercy may release;
Soon, if my love but once were crowned,
Fair prophetess, my grief would cease.

( A SONG.

In vain you tell your parting lover,
You wish fair winds may waft him over.
Alas! what winds can happy prove,
That bear me far from what I love
Alas! what dangers on the main
Can equal those that I sustain,
From slighted vows, and cold disdain!
Be gentle, and in pity choose
To wish the wildest tempests loose:
That, thrown again upon the coast, 10
Where first my shipwrecked heart was lost,
I may once more repeat my pain;
Once more in dying notes complain
Of slighted vows, and cold disdain.

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THE DESPAIRING SHEPHERD.

ALEXIS shunned his fellow swains,
Their rural sports, and jocund strains,
(Heaven guard us all from Cupid's bow !)
He lost his crook, he left his flocks;
And wandering through the lonely rocks,
He nourished endless woe.

The nymphs and shepherds round him came:
His grief some pity, others blame,
The fatal cause all kindly seek;
He mingled his concern with theirs,
He gave them back their friendly tears,
He sighed, but would not speak.

Clorinda came among the rest;
And she too kind concern expressed,
And asked the reason of his woe:
She asked, but with an air and mien,
That made it easily foreseen,
She feared too much to know.

The shepherd raised his mournful head;
And will you pardon me, he said,
While I the cruel truth reveal;
Which nothing from my breast should tear,
Which never should offend your ear,
But that you bid me tell?

'Tis thus I rove, ’tis thus complain,
Since you appeared upon the plain;
You are the cause of all my care:

Your eyes ten thousand dangers dart,
Ten thousand torments vex my heart,
I love and I despair.

Too much, Alexis, I have heard;
'Tis what I thought; 'tis what I feared:
And yet I pardon you, she cried;
But you shall promise ne'er again
To breathe your vows, or speak your pain:
He bowed, obeyed, and died!

TO THE HONOURABLE CHARLES
MONTAGUE.1

1 Howe'ER, 'tis well, that while mankind
Through Fate's perverse meander errs,
He can imagined pleasures find,
To combat against real cares.

2 Fancies and notions he pursues,
Which ne'er had being but in thought;
Each, like the Grecian artist,” woos
The image he himself has wrought.

3 Against experience he believes;
He argues against demonstration;
Pleased, when his reason he deceives;
And sets his judgment by his passion.

4 The hoary fool, who many days
Has struggled with continued sorrow,
Renews his hope, and blindly lays
The desperate bet upon to-morrow.
1. Afterwards Earl of Halifax.- Apelles.

5 To-morrow comes; ’tis noon, 'tis night;
This day like all the former flies:
Yet on he runs, to seek delight
To-morrow, till to-night he dies.

6 Our hopes, like towering falcons, aim
At objects in an airy height;
The little pleasure of the game
Is from afar to view the flight.

7 Our anxious pains we, all the day,
In search of what we like, employ;
Scorning at night the worthless prey,

We find the labour gave the joy.

8 At distance through an artful glass
To the mind's eye things well appear;
They lose their forms, and make a mass
Confused and black if brought too near.

9 If we see right, we see our woes;
Then what avails it to have eyes;
From ignorance our comfort flows.
The only wretched are the wise.

10 We wearied should lie down in death; This cheat of life would take no more; If you thought fame but empty breath; I, Phillis, but a perjured whore.

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