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Poem by Thomas Carew
I WILL enjoy thee now, my Celia, come, And fly with me to Love's Elysium. The giant, Honour, that keeps cowards out, Is but a masquer, and the servile rout Of baser subjects only bend in vain To the vast idol ; whilst the nobler train Of valiant lovers daily sail between The huge Colossus' legs, and pass unseen Unto the blissful shore. Be bold and wise, And we shall enter : the grim Swiss denies Only to tame fools a passage, that not know He is but form and only frights in show The duller eyes that look from far ; draw near And thou shalt scorn what we were wont to fear. We shall see how the stalking pageant goes With borrow'd legs, a heavy load to those That made and bear him ; nor, as we once thought, The seed of gods, but a weak model wrought By greedy men, that seek to enclose the common, And within private arms empale free woman. Come, then, and mounted on the wings of Love We'll cut the flitting air and soar above The monster's head, and in the noblest seats Of those blest shades quench and renew our heats. There shall the queens of love and innocence, Beauty and Nature, banish all offence From our close ivy-twines ; there I'll behold Thy bared snow and thy unbraided gold ; There my enfranchised hand on every side Shall o'er thy naked polish'd ivory slide. No curtain there, though of transparent lawn, Shall be before thy virgin-treasure drawn ; But the rich mine, to the enquiring eye Exposed, shall ready still for mintage lie, And we will coin young Cupids. There a bed Of roses and fresh myrtles shall be spread, Under the cooler shade of cypress groves ; Our pillows of the down of Venus' doves, Whereon our panting limbs we'll gently lay, In the faint respites of our active play : That so our slumbers may in dreams have leisure To tell the nimble fancy our past pleasure, And so our souls, that cannot be embraced, Shall the embraces of our bodies taste. Meanwhile the bubbling stream shall court the shore, Th' enamour'd chirping wood-choir shall adore In varied tunes the deity of love ; The gentle blasts of western winds shall move The trembling leaves, and through their close boughs breathe Still music, whilst we rest ourselves beneath Their dancing shade ; till a soft murmur, sent From souls entranced in amorous languishment, Rouse us, and shoot into our veins fresh fire, Till we in their sweet ecstasy expire. Then, as the empty bee that lately bore Into the common treasure all her store, Flies 'bout the painted field with nimble wing, Deflow'ring the fresh virgins of the spring, So will I rifle all the sweets that dwell In my delicious paradise, and swell My bag with honey, drawn forth by the power Of fervent kisses from each spicy flower. I'll seize the rose-buds in their perfumed bed, The violet knots, like curious mazes spread O'er all the garden, taste the ripen'd cherry, The warm firm apple, tipp'd with coral berry : Then will I visit with a wand'ring kiss The vale of lilies and the bower of bliss ; And where the beauteous region both divide Into two milky ways, my lips shall slide Down those smooth alleys, wearing as they go A tract for lovers on the printed snow ; Thence climbing o'er the swelling Apennine, Retire into thy grove of eglantine, Where I will all those ravish'd sweets distil Through Love's alembic, and with chemic skill From the mix'd mass one sovereign balm derive, Then bring that great elixir to thy hive. Now in more subtle wreaths I will entwine My sinewy thighs, my legs and arms with thine ; Thou like a sea of milk shalt lie display'd, Whilst I the smooth calm ocean invade With such a tempest, as when Jove of old Fell down on Danaë in a storm of gold ; Yet my tall pine shall in the Cyprian strait Ride safe at anchor and unlade her freight : My rudder with thy bold hand, like a tried And skilful pilot, thou shalt steer, and guide My bark into love's channel, where it shall Dance, as the bounding waves do rise or fall. Then shall thy circling arms embrace and clip My willing body, and thy balmy lip Bathe me in juice of kisses, whose perfume Like a religious incense shall consume, And send up holy vapours to those powers That bless our loves and crown our sportful hours, That with such halcyon calmness fix our souls In steadfast peace, as no affright controls. There, no rude sounds shake us with sudden starts ; No jealous ears, when we unrip our hearts, Suck our discourse in ; no observing spies This blush, that glance traduce ; no envious eyes Watch our close meetings ; nor are we betray'd To rivals by the bribed chambermaid. No wedlock bonds unwreathe our twisted loves, We seek no midnight arbour, no dark groves To hide our kisses : there, the hated name Of husband, wife, lust, modest, chaste or shame, Are vain and empty words, whose very sound Was never heard in the Elysian ground. All things are lawful there, that may delight Nature or unrestrained appetite ; Like and enjoy, to will and act is one : We only sin when Love's rites are not done. The Roman Lucrece there reads the divine Lectures of love's great master, Aretine, And knows as well as Lais how to move Her pliant body in the act of love ; To quench the burning ravisher she hurls Her limbs into a thousand winding curls, And studies artful postures, such as be Carved on the bark of every neighbouring tree By learned hands, that so adorn'd the rind Of those fair plants, which, as they lay entwined, Have fann'd their glowing fires. The Grecian dame, That in her endless web toil'd for a name As fruitless as her work, doth there display Herself before the youth of Ithaca, And th' amorous sport of gamesome nights prefer Before dull dreams of the lost traveller. Daphne hath broke her bark, and that swift foot Which th' angry gods had fasten'd with a root To the fix'd earth, doth now unfetter'd run To meet th' embraces of the youthful Sun. She hangs upon him like his Delphic lyre ; Her kisses blow the old, and breathe new fire ; Full of her god, she sings inspired lays, Sweet odes of love, such as deserve the bays, Which she herself was. Next her, Laura lies In Petrarch's learned arms, drying those eyes That did in such sweet smooth-paced numbers flow, As made the world enamour'd of his woe. These, and ten thousand beauties more, that died Slave to the tyrant, now enlarged deride His cancell'd laws, and for their time mis-spent Pay into Love's exchequer double rent. Come then, my Celia, we'll no more forbear To taste our joys, struck with a panic fear, But will depose from his imperious sway This proud usurper, and walk as free as they, With necks unyoked ; nor is it just that he Should fetter your soft sex with chastity, Whom Nature made unapt for abstinence ; When yet this false impostor can dispense With human justice and with sacred right, And, maugre both their laws, command me fight With rivals or with emulous loves that dare Equal with thine their mistress' eyes or hair. If thou complain of wrong, and call my sword To carve out thy revenge, upon that word He bids me fight and kill ; or else he brands With marks of infamy my coward hands. And yet religion bids from blood-shed fly, And damns me for that act. Then tell me why This goblin Honour, which the world adores, Should make men atheists, and not women whores?
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