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James Thomson (Джеймс Томсон)

On Beauty

Beauty deserves the homage of the muse:
Shall mine, rebellious, the dear theme refuse?
No; while my breast respires the vital air,
Wholly I am devoted to the fair.
Beauty I'll sing in my sublimest lays,
I burn to give her just immortal praise.
The heavenly maid with transport I'll pursue
To her abode, and all her graces view.
This happy place with all delights abounds,
And plenty broods upon the fertile grounds.
Here verdant grass their waving
And hills and vales in sweet confusion lie:
The nibbling flock stray o'er the rising hills,
And all around with bleating music fills:
High on their fronts tall blooming forests nod,
Of sylvan deities the blest abode:
The feather'd minstrels hop from spray to spray,
And chant their gladsome carols all the day;
Till dusky night, advancing in her car,
Makes with declining light successful war.
Then Philomel her mournful lay repeats,
And through her throat breathes melancholy sweets.
Still higher yet wild rugged rocks arise,
And strike beholders with a dread surprise.
This paradise these towering hills surround,
That thither is one only passage found.
Increasing brooks roll down the mountain's side,
And as they pass the opposing pebbles chide.
But vernal showers refresh the blooming year.
Their only season is eternal spring,
Which hovers o'er them with a downy wing:
Blossoms and fruits at once the trees adorn
With glowing blushes, like the rosy morn: 
The way that to this stately palace goes
Of myrtle trees, lies 'twixt two even rows,
Which, towering high, with outstretch'd arms display'd,
Over our heads a living arch have made.
To sing, my muse, the bold attempt begin,
Of awful beauties you behold within:
The Goddess sat upon a throne of gold,
Emboss'd with figures charming to behold;
Here new made Eve stood in her early bloom,
Not yet obscured with sin's sullen gloom;
Her naked beauties do the soul confound,
From every part is given a fatal wound;
There other beauties of a meaner fame
Oblige the sight, whom here I shall not name.
In her right hand she did a sceptre sway,
O'er all mankind ambitious to obey:
Her lovely forehead and her killing eye,
Her blushing cheeks of a vermilion dye,
Her lip's soft pulp, her heaving snowy breast,
Her well turn'd arm, her handsome slender waist,
And all below veil'd from the curious eye;
Oh! heavenly maid! makes all beholders cry.
Her dress was plain, not pompous as a bride,
Which would her sweeter native beauties hide.
One thing I mind, a spreading hoop she wore,
Than nothing which adorns a lady more.
With equal rage, could I its beauties sing,
I'd with the hoop make all Parnassus ring.
Around her shoulders, dangling on her throne,
A bright Tartana carelessly was thrown,
Which has already won immortal praise,
Most sweetly sung in Allan Ramsay's lays;
The wanton Cupids did around her play,
And smiling loves upon her bosom stray;
With purple wings they round about her flew,
And her sweet lips tinged with ambrosial dew:
Her air was easy, graceful was her mien,
Her presence banish'd the ungrateful spleen;
In short, her divine influence refined
Our corrupt hearts, and polished mankind.
Of lovely nymphs she had a smiling train,
Fairer than those e'er graced Arcadia's plain.
The British ladies next to her took place,
Who chiefly did the fair assembly grace.
What blooming virgins can Britannia boast,
Their praises would all eloquence exhaust.
With ladies there my ravish'd eyes did meet,
That oft I've seen grace fair Edina's street,
With their broad hoops cut through the willing air,
Pleased to give place unto the lovely fair:
Sure this is like those blissful seats above,
Here is peace, transporting joy, and love.
Should I be doom'd by cruel angry fate
In some lone isle my lingering end to wait,
Yet happy I! still happy should I be,
While bless'd with virtue and a charming she;
With full content I'd fortune's pride despise,
And die still gazing on her lovely eyes.
May all the blessings mortals need below,
May all the blessings heaven can bestow,
May every thing that's pleasant, good, or rare,
Be the eternal portion of the Fair. 

James Thomson's other poems:
  1. To Myra
  2. The Lover's Fate
  3. Lavinia
  4. A Pastoral Entertainment
  5. Care of Birds for Their Young

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