John Armstrong Poems >>
The Oeconomy Of Love

Thy bounties, Love, in thy soft raptures, when
Timeliest the melting pairs indulge, and how
Best to improve the genial joy, how shun
The snakes that under rosy pleasure lurk,
I sing; if thou, fair Cytherea, deign
Gracious to smile on my attempt. Tho' thou
None of the Muses nine, yet oft on thee
The Muses wait, oft gambol in thy train,
Tho' virgins. Come, nor leave thy Boy behind,
Blind but unerring archer. Hymen, raise
Aloft thy sacred torch: your gifts I sing.

Ye youths and virgins, when your generous blood
Has drunk the warmth of fifteen summers, now
The loves invite; now to new rapture wakes
The finish'd sense: while stung with keen desire
The madd'ning boy his bashful fetters bursts;
And, urg'd with secret flames, the riper maid,
Conscious and shy, betrays her smarting breast.

Yet Nature not in all her sons maintains
An equal progress. This with kindly warmth
Concocts to manly vigour strait, while that
Pines crude and chill, and scarce at last attains
Imperfect life. Some slight their varnish'd steed,
And (wond'rous instinct!) bent on manlier sport,
Cope with the maids. Alcides thus, they say,
Rose brawny from his cradle, while the snakes
Hung hissing round him, horrible and fell,
Sent by enrag'd Saturnia, to destroy
Her rival's hope: The mighty infant grasp'd
His speckled foes, and, smiling, dash'd them down
To hell, their native clime; the spumy gore
Blotted the frighted pavement. Early thus
Was future chivalry presag'd.--Mean time
Others slow ripen. Men there are who scarce
Feel the first thrillings of untaught desire;
While pallid maids scarce ruminate on man
Till twenty; well if then. It boots thee much
To study the complexion, much the clime,
And habitudes of life. Meanwhile, with me,
Credit these signs. The boy may wrestle, when
Night--working Fancy steals him to the arms
Of nymph oft wish'd awake, and, 'mid the rage
Of the soft tumult, ev'ry turgid cell
Spontaneous disembogues its lucid store,
Bland and of azure tinct. Nor envy thou
Waking fruition, while such happy dreams
Visit thy slumbers: liveliest then the touch
Thrills to the brain, with all sensations else
Unshaken, unseduc'd. The maid demands
The dues of Venus, when the parting breasts
Wanton exuberant, and tempt the touch,
Plump'd with rich moisture from the finish'd growth
Redundant now: for late the shooting tubes
Drunk all the blood the toiling heart could pour,
Insatiate; now, full--grown, they crave no more
Than what repairs their daily waste. But still
There must be loss, nor does the superplus
Turn all to thrift. For from Love's grotto now
Oozes the sanguine stream through many a rill,
Startling the simple lass, that anxious glows
Inward, till bold necessity o'ercomes
Her fond reluctant blushes, to consult
Her nurse, well vers'd in mystic cases deep,
At christ'nings oft discuss'd, when, warm'd with wine,
The mellow matrons, by the midnight fire
Lewd Orgies hold; while naked roams around,
His torch high--flaming from the spicy bowl,
Lust full of glee, and thro' each lab'ring breast
His sacred fury pours. The Sybil solves
Sagely the dubious case.--The rising down
Then too begins to skirt the hallow'd bounds
Of Venus' blest domain. In either sex
This sign obtains. For Nature, provident
Now, when both sides stand equal for the fray,
This graceful armour spreads: and, but for this,
Excoriate oft the tender parts would rue
The close encounter; now they fight secure,
Thus harness'd, and sustain the mutual shock
Of war unhurt, for many a well--fought day.

But if to progeny thy views extend
Paternal, and the name of sire invites,
Wouldst thou behold a thriving race surround
Thy spacious table, shun the soft embrace
Emasculent, till twice ten years and more
Have steel'd thy nerves, and let the holy rite
License the bliss. Nor would I urge, precise,
A total abstinence: this might unman
The genial organs, unemploy'd so long,
And quite extinguish the prolific flame,
Refrigerant. But riot oft, unblam'd,
On kisses, sweet repast! ambrosial joy!
Now press with gentle hand the gentle hand,
And, sighing, now the breasts, that to the touch
Heave amorous. Nor thou, fair maid, refuse
Indulgence, while thy paramour discreet
Aspires no farther. Thus thou may'st expect
Treasure hereafter, when the bridegroom, warm,
Trembling with keen desire, profusely pours
The rich collection of enamour'd years;
Exhaustless, blessing all thy nuptial nights.

But, O my son, whether the generous care
Of propagation and domestic charge,
Or soft encounter more attract, renounce
The vice of monks recluse, the early bane
Of rising manhood. Banish from thy shades
Th'ungenerous, selfish, solitary joy.
Hold, parricide, thy hand! For thee alone
Did Nature form thee? for thy narrow self
Grant thee the means of pleasure? Dream'st thou so?
That very self mistakes its wiser aim;
Its finer sense ungratified, unpleas'd,
But when from active soul to soul rebounds
The swelling mingling tumult of delight,
Hold yet again! e'er idle callus wrap
In sullen indolence th'astonish'd nerves,
When thou may'st fret and tease thy sense in vain,
And curse too late th'unwisely wanton hours.
Impious! forbear thus the first general hail.
To disappoint, Increase and multiply,
To shed thy blossoms thro' the desert air,
And sow thy perish'd offspring in the winds.
Unhallow'd pastime!--Tho' the factious chief
Oft brew hot insurrection, rather hie
To bagnio lewd or tavern, nightly where
Venereal rites are done, from Draco's ken
Remote, and light of heaven; (as erst retir'd
The heaving Gallic saints to the kind gloom
Of clift, or cave, or trusted barn, to hold
Forbidden sabbaths); rather visit thou
Those haunts of public lewdness; oft tho' there
Sore ills dismay. Purse, or the golden pride
That decks thy finger, gorgeous with the spoils
Of Mexico, Peru, and farthest Ind,
Or watch time--measuring, oft subtracted sly,
Sink in the dark profound. And oft, to crush
Thy slacken'd manhood in the mid career
Of puissant deeds, untimely rushes in
A froward boist'rous wight, and from thy arms
The passive spouse of all the town demands.
Him, hungering after gold, nor words can charm,
No more persuasive wine; thy gold must pay
The violation of the public bed;
Or braver steel must prove thy manly arm
In dubious fight. Yet well if here could end
The mis'ry: worse perhaps ensues; a train
Of ills of tedious count and horrid name;
Such as of old distress'd the man else squar'd
To God's own heart, but that he wide debauch'd
Jerusalem's fair daughters to his flames
Unquench'd; nor from the holy marriage--bed
Refrain'd his loose embraces, when the wife
Of wrong'd Urias he seduc'd; nor stopt
Till murder crown'd his lust. Hence him the wrath
Of righteous Heaven, awaking, long pursu'd
With sore disease, and fill'd his loins with pain;
All day he roar'd, and all the tedious night
Bedew'd his couch with tears; and still his groans
Breathe musical in Sacred song. What woes!
What pains he try'd! But now this plague attacks
With double rancour, and severely marks
Modern offenders; undermines at once
The fame and nose, that by unseemly lapse,
Aukward, deforms the human face divine
With ghastly ruins. Tho' this breach, they say,
Nice Taliacotius' art, with substitute
From porters borrow'd, or the callous breech
Of sedentary weaver, oft repair'd,
Precarious; for no sooner fate demands
The parent stock, than (pious sympathy!)
Revolts th'adopted nose.--Such ills attend
Th'obscene embrace of harlots. Wiser thou;
Find some soft nymph, whom tender sympathy
Attracts to thee, while all her captives else,
Aw'd by majestic beauty, mourn aloof
Her charms, to thee by nuptial vows, and choice
More sure, devoted. Sacrifice to her
The precious hours, nor grudge, with such a mate,
The summer's day to toy or winter's night.
Now, with your happy arms her waist surround,
Fond--grasping; on her swelling bosom now
Recline your cheek, with eager kisses press
Her balmy lips, and, drinking from her eyes
Resistless love, the tender flame confess,
Ineffable but by the murmuring voice
Of genuine joy; then hug and kiss again,
Strech'd on the flow'ry turf, while joyful glows
Thy manly pride, and, throbbing with desire,
Pants earnest, felt thro' all the obstacles
That interveen: but love, whose fervent course
Mountains nor seas oppose, can soon remove
Barriers so slight. Then when her lovely limbs,
Oft lovely deem'd, far lovelier now beheld,
Thro' all your trembling joints increase the flame,
Forthwith discover to her dazzled sight
The stately novelty, and to her hand
Usher the new acquaintance. She, perhaps
Averse, will coldly chide, and half afraid,
Blushing, half pleas'd, the tumid wonder view
With neck retorted, and oblique regard;
Nor quite her curious eye indulging, nor
Refraining quite. Perhaps when you attempt
The sweet admission, toyful she resists
With shy reluctance; nathless you pursue
The soft attack, and push the gentle war
Fervent, till quite o'erpower'd the melting maid
Faintly opposes. On the brink at last
Arriv'd of giddy rapture, plunge not in
Precipitant, but spare a virgin's pain;
Oh, spare a gentle virgin! spare yourself!
Lest sanguine war Love's tender rites profane
With fierce dilaceration, and dire pangs
Reciprocal. Nor droop because the door
Of bliss seems shut and barricaded strong;
But triumph rather in this faithful pledge
Of innocence, and fair virginity
Inviolate. And hence the subtile wench,
Her maiden honours torn, in evil hour
Unseemly torn, and shrunk her virgin rose,
Studious how best the guilty wound to heal,
Her shame best palliate with fair outward shew,
Inward less strict, with painful hand collects
The sylvan store. The lover myrtle yields
Her styptic berries, and the horrid thorn
Its prune austere; in vain the caper hides
Its wandering roots; the mighty oak himself,
Sole tyrant of the shade, that long had 'scap'd
The tanner's rage, spoil'd of his callous rhind,
Stands bleak and bare. These, and a thousand more
Of humbler growth, and far inferior name,
Bistort and dock, and that way--faring herb
Plantain, her various forage, boil'd in wine,
Yield their astringent force, a lotion prov'd
Thrice powerful to contract the shameful breach.
Beware of these; for in our dangerous days
Such counterfeits abound: whom next to know
Concerns. And here expect no dye of wound,
No wound is made; the corrugated parts,
With ill--dissembled virtue, (tho' severe,
Not wrinkled into frowns when genuine most),
Relapse apace, and quit their borrow'd tone.
Yet judge with charity the varied work
Of Nature's hand. Perhaps the purple stream,
Emollient bath, leaves flexible and lax
The parts it lately wash'd. But hapless he
In nuptial night, on whom a horrid chasm
Yawns dreadful, waste and wild, like that through which
The wand'ring Greek, and Cytherea's son,
Diving, explor'd hell's adamantine gates:
An unessential void; where neither love
Nor pleasure dwells, where warm creation dies,
Starv'd in th'abortive gulf; the dire effects
Of use too frequent, or for love or gold.

Now hear me, Lovers, ye whose roving hearts
No sacred nuptial chains have yet confin'd,
Attentive hear, and daily, nightly weigh
The counsels sage which, thro' thy raptur'd breast,
To you th'auspicious heavenly Muse conveys:
The Muse, no soothing minister of vice,
Tho' now, in sportive vein, to youthful ears
She tunes her song, to give instruction grace.
Attend, ye wise: No frantic Bacchanal,
No shameless bard of the licentious rout
Of flush'd Silenus, sings.--What Nature bids
Is good, is wise, and faultless we obey.
We must obey: howe'er hard Stoic dreams
Of apathy, much vaunted, seldom prov'd:
For oft beneath the philosophic gloom
Sly lewdness lurks, and oftner mazy Guile,
That with well--mimic'd love th'unwary heart
Lures to its fate, and hails while it betrays.
There bloated Pride too dwells, and baneful Hate,
And dark Revenge, than which a deadlier fiend
Ne'er pour'd its venom thro' a human breast.
Far hence be these. We know great Nature's pow'r,
Mother of things, whose vast unbounded sway
From the deep centre all around extends
Wide to the flaming barriers of the world.
We feel her power; we strive not to repress
(Vainly repress'd, or to deformity)
Her lawful growth: ours be the task alone
To check her rude excrescencies, to prune
Her wanton overgrowth, and where she strays
In uncouth shapes, to lead her gently back,
With prudent hand, to form and better use.

For wisest ends this universal Power
Gave appetites, from whose quick impulse life
Subsists, by which we only live, all life
Insipid else, unactive, unenjoy'd.
Hence to this peopled earth, which, that extinct,
That flame for propagation, soon would roll
A lifeless mass, and vainly cumber heaven.
Then love of pleasure sways each heart, and we
From that no more than from ourselves can fly.
Blameless when govern'd well. But where it errs
Extravagant, and wildly leads to ill,
Public or private, there its curbing pow'r
Cool reason must exert.--This lesson weigh,
Ye tender pairs, indulge your gentle flames,
Each fondest wish, and bathe your souls in love;
But let discretion guard the hour of bliss,
Virtuous in pleasure. So shall you enjoy
Pleasure unmix'd, and without thorn the rose.
This caution scorn'd, beware th'event perverse:
Expect for pleasure, pain and sharp remorse;
For love, aversion; and each broken vow,
The jest of fools, the pity of the wise.

Be secret, Lovers: let no dangerous spy
Catch your soft glances, as oblique they deal
Mutual contagion, darting all the soul
In missive love, nor hear your lab'ring sighs.
But chiefly when the high--wrought rapture calls
Impatient to soft deeds, then, then retire
From ev'ry mortal ken. The sapient king,
(Whose loves who could defame?) in the mild gloom
Deep in the centre of his gardens hid,
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Find then some soft obscure retreat, untrod
By mortals else, where thick embow'ring shades
Condense to darkness, and embrown the day;
There, safe from all profane access, pursue
Love's bashful rites. For oft the curious eye
Of prying childhood, and th'aspect malign,
Waning and wan, of virgin stale in years,
Shed baneful influence on the rites of love.
And thou, my son, when floods of mellowing wine
And social joys have loosen'd all thy breast,
When every secret gushes, this at least,
This one reserve, of love and bounteous charms,
Of trusting beauty, venturing all for thee,
For thy delight, her fortune and her fame;
For her thou nothing. Hold! ingrateful, hold
Thy wanton tongue. Leave to the last of fools,
Of villains! that ungenerous vanity,
Cruel and base, to vaunt of secret joys;
Of joys on thee, so vaunting, ill bestow'd.
O dare not thus with mortal sting to wound
The tender helpless sex. Does thy vile breath
So blast my sister's or my daughter's fame,--
By Heaven thou diest! thy treach'rous blood alone
Can wash my honour clean. Prudent mean time,
Ye generous maids, revenge your sex's wrong;
Let not the mean destroyer e'er approach
Your sacred charms. Now muster all your pride,
Contempt and scorn, that, shot from Beauty's eye,
Confounds the mighty impudent, and smites
The front unknown to shame. Trust not his vows,
His labour'd sighs, and well--dissembled tears,
Nor swell the triumph of known perjury.

Mean while, my son, if angry fate, or love
Grown indiscreet, or loud Lucina, tell
Th'important secret; is thy mate well form'd,
Virtuous, and equal for thy lawful bed?
Save her, I charge thee, from foul infamy,
And lonely shame; let wedlock's holy tye
Legitimate th'indissoluble flames.
If abject birth, dishonourable, and mind
Incultivate or vicious, to that height
Forbid her hopes to climb, at least secure
From penury her humble state, by thee
Else humbled more, and to necessity,
Stern foe to virtue, fame, and life, betray'd,
A helpless prey. O! let no parent's woe,
No plaints of trusting innocence, nor tears
Of pining beauty, blast thy guilty joys.
Shall she, so late the soft'ner of thy life,
Thy chief delight, whose melting essence oft
Lay with thy melting essence kindly mix'd;
(As far as bodies and embodied souls
Can mingle); she who deem'd thy vows sincere,
Thy passion more than selfish, and thy love
To her devoted, as was hers to thee:
Shall she (O cruel perfidy!) at last,
When with her tainted name the winds grow sick,
When envious prudery chides, affecting scorn
Of natural joys, and they of public fame
Insulting hail her sister, while each friend
Disgusted flies; shall she not find in thee
Unshaken amity? When to thy arms,
Well--known, with wonted confidence she flies,
To pour her sorrows forth, and sooth her cares,
Shall she then find thy faithless heart from home,
From her enstrang'd? At that disast'rous hour
Wilt thou ungently spurn her from thy love,
To waste in sickly grief her once--priz'd charms,
Forlorn to languish out her life, to lead
Despis'd, unwedded, her dishonour'd days?
Or, if her barren fortune, hard like thee,
Scowls meagre want, (whose iron empire, Pride
Reluctant, and her offspring Modesty
Blushing, at last obey), unskill'd in arts
Of mercenary Venus, to increase
The rompish band, that, without pleasure lewd,
With deep--felt sorrow gay, thro' Trivia's reign
Nightly solicit lovers; oft repuls'd;
Oft, when invited to the barren toil,
Thankless deserted by their slipp'ry loves;
Or to the salt of years, where tedious lust
Uncouth and monstrous creeps thro' freezing loins,
Patient submitted; to the boist'rous will
Of midnight ruffians, to abhorr'd disease,
Hourly expos'd, and Draco's fiercer rage.
Spare, mighty Draco! spare a hapless race,
By thy own sex to wretchedness betray'd.
A woman bore thee; by each tender name
Of woman, spare. Hast thou or daughter fair,
Or sister? They, but for a happier birth,
The gift of Fate, and Honour's guardian, Pride
Early inspir'd, had swell'd the common stream;
While she, whom now thy awful name dismays,
Portentous heard from far, with Fortune's smiles
And fair example, might have grac'd thy bed,
A virtuous mate in every charm compleat.

A pious duty next, neglected oft
Demands my song. If from thy secret bed
Of luxury unbidden offspring rise,
Let them be kindly welcom'd to the day.
'Tis Nature bids. To Nature's high behests
Attend, and from the monster--breeding deep,
The ravag'd air, and howling wilderness,
Learn parent virtues. Shall the growling bear
Be more a sire than thou? An infant once,
Helpless and weak, but for paternal care,
Thou hadst not liv'd to propagate a race
To mis'ry, to resign to step--dame Fate
Perhaps a worthier offspring than thy sire
Tenderly rear'd. For from the stol'n embrace,
Untir'd with worn acquaintance, keenly urg'd,
Elate with generous rapture, likeliest springs
The noblest blood, most animated, best.
What heroes hence have issued! what fam'd chiefs,
And demi--gods of old! The stealth of love
Gave Greece her Hercules, and mighty Rome
First rose beneath a random son of Mars.
Thy vigour too, the blossom of thy strength,
Reckless and wild profus'd, in dangerous days,
Or in the senate wise, and nobly warm
To public good, may save the rushing state;
Or, bold in arms, may roll her thunders forth
To shatter distant skies, and, rous'd to blood,
Usher the British Lion to the field.
Thy country claims thy care; nurse well her hopes,
And thine; nor thou her church's hungry wolves,
High Overseers, with thine own childrens' gore
Satiate, if Rapine know satiety.
For, bred to death, and of sagacious nose,
A prowling herd, lur'd with the recent smell
Of secret birth, their carnage sweet, or led
By infant wailings querulous and shrill,
Beset thy frighted gates. These timely thou
Prevent, or mourn too late thy ravish'd gold
And captive son, to the street--dunning tribe
Of mendicants let out, fictitious badge
Of low distress: there to what life of pain
Led up who knows? to what disgraceful fate,
What gibbet bred? Or from his parents' arms,
With nurse unpitying, unbenign, exil'd
To squalid lodge, to find in Famine's cave
A lingering death; or by a deadlier hag,
Than her that rides the lab'ring night, oppress'd,
Untimely sink beneath a heavier fate.
While they, the sons of licens'd rapine, screen'd
Under the altar of the god of life
With murder stain'd, on what should raise thy son
Nightly regale carnivorous: for them
The heifer bleeds, or for her slaughter'd young
Roams wild the woodland bounds: and what should now
To thy young hopes run soft in balmy rills
Lacteous, to them in deep Oporto flows,
Or hot Madeira. Thus the sanguine feast
They crown, nor dread the cry of infant--blood.

These precepts wisely keep; by these direct
Thy steps thro' Pleasure's labyrinth. Unhurt
And unoffending thus thy tutor'd feet
May tread the wilds of else--delusive joy.
So shall no sorrows wound, no ruder cares
Disturb thy pleasures, no remorseful tears
Attend thy gay delight; nor sighs make way,
But such as heave the pleasure--burden'd breast,
As utter love, with speechless eloquence
Well understood, and breathe from soul to soul
The soft infection, fondly still receiv'd.
Almighty Love! O unexhausted source
Of universal joy! first principle
Of Nature all--creating! harmony
By which her mighty movements all are rul'd!
Soft tyrant of each element! whose sway,
Resistless through the wilds of air is felt,
Through earth, and the deep empire of the main!
Thy willing slaves, we own thy gentle pow'r
In us supreme, with kind endearments rais'd
Above the merely sensual touch of brutes.
By thy soft charm the savage breast is tam'd,
The genius rais'd. Thy heav'nly warmth inspires
Whate'er is noble, generous, or humane,
Or elegant; whate'er adorns the mind,
Graces or sweetens life: and, without thee,
Nothing, or gay, or amiable, appears.//

Yet not to love, (thus polishing the soul,
Thus charming, tho' of ev'ry finer breast
The sovereign joy), yet not to love alone
Yield languid all your hours. The self--same cates
Still offer'd soon the appetite offends;
The most delicious soonest. Other joys,
Other pursuits, their equal share demand
Of cultivation. These with kindly change
Will cheer your sweetly--varied days; from these
With quicker sense you shall, and firmer nerves,
Return to Love, when Love again invites.
Be those the least neglected which inform
With virtue, sense, and elegance, the mind;
Those what before was amiable improve,
And lend to love new grace and dignity.
Life too has serious cares, which madly scorn'd,
The means of pleasure melt.--And age will come,
When love, alas! the flower of human joys,
Must shrink in horrid frost. O hapless he!
Thrice hapless then! whose only joy was that;
Whose young desires tumultuous still engage
To wield a load of unobedient limbs,
With vain attempt. Him the inclement pow'r
Of craving Impotence, to fonder toys///////////////////////////
Than other dotage knows, or easy dup'd
Credulity can well believe, incites.
Him all the Nymphs despise, and the young Loves
With leering scorn behold; while vigorous heat
Has fled his shaken limbs, surviving still
In his green fancy. Thence what desp'rate toil,
By flagellation and the rage of blows,
To rouse the Venus loitering in his veins!
Fruitless, for Venus unsolicited
The kindest smiles, abhorring painful rites.
Cease, reverend fathers! from those youthful sports
Retire, before unfinish'd feats betray
Your slacken'd nerves. The hoary years, design'd
For wisdom, for sedate philosophy
And contemplation, ill agree with love.
Cheerful retire; nor grudge in peevish saws,
Like envious monitors, the sprightly joys
Of lusty youth. You had your genial time
Of pleasure; ours is on the rapid wing.

And you whose youthful blood impetuous rolls,
With generous spirits fraught and kindly balm,
Husband your vigour well; if aught or health,
Or offspring numerous, beautiful, and strong,
Or pleasure weigh. For from the trite embrace
Follow faint relaxation, strength impair'd,
Disgust, and mutual apathy, Love's bane.
Some boast, I know, their vigour to renew,
And keen desire, by food restorative,
Or pharmacy more noxious. Orchis hence,
Lascivious bulb, Satyrion better nam'd,
And that maritime, which the sea--born Queen
Feeds with her native spume, Eryngo mild;
Boletus, fam'd among the fungous tribe,
And fell Cantharides, in various forms
Are us'd. But what ensues? Diseases more
Than ever burden'd Auster's dropping wings;
Cold tremors, spasms, and cephalaea's dire,
Eternal flux of Nature's balmy dew,
Tabes, and gaunt marasinus, hideous loss
Of godlike reason, and th'imprison'd rage
Of fierce Lypyria, whose collected fires
The vitals only seize. Or if the sons
Of jaded luxury those plagues escape,
They waste their melting youth, and bring grey hairs
Before their time, grey hairs and idle years.
Leave Nature to herself, nor covet more
Than Nature gives, that but to real wants
Each well--conducted appetite provokes.

But chiefly thee, fair nymph, behoves to know
That love and joy when in their prime must fear
Decay, the fate of all created things.
Be frugal then: the coyly--yielded kiss
Charms most, and gives the most sincere delight.
Cheapness offends: hence on the harlot's lip
No rapture hangs, however fair she seem,
However form'd for love and amorous play.
Hail, Modesty! fair female honour, hail!
Beauty's chief ornament, and Beauty's self!
For Beauty must with Virtue ever dwell,
And thou art Virtue! and without thy charm
Beauty is insolent and wit profane.
Thou giv'st the smile its grace, the heighten'd kiss
Its balmy essence sweet! and but for thee
The very raptures of the lawful bed
Were outrage and foul riot, rites obscene!
Celestial Maid! be it lawful that with lips
Profane I name thee, and in wanton song:
But in these vicious days great Nature's laws
Are spurn'd; eternal Virtue, which no time
Nor place can change, nor custom changing all,
Is mock'd to scorn; and lewd Abuse instead,
Daughter of Night, her shameless revels holds
O'er half the globe, while the chaste face of Day
Eclipses at her rites. For man with man,
And man with woman, (monstrous to relate!)
Leaving the natural road, themselves debase
With deeds unseemly and dishonour foul.
Britons, for shame! be male and female still.
Banish this foreign vice; it grows not here;
It dies neglected; and in clime so chaste
Cannot but by forc'd cultivation thrive.
So cultivated swells the more our shame,
The more our guilt. And shall not greater guilt
Meet greater punishment and heavier doom!
Not lighter for delay. Did justice spare
The men of Sodom erst? Like us they sinn'd,
Like us they sought the paths of monstrous joy;
Till, urg'd to wrath at last, all--patient Heaven
Descending, wrapt them in sulphureous storm;
And where proud palaces appear'd, the haunts
Of luxury, now sleeps a sullen pool:
Vengeful memorial of almighty ire,
Against the sons of lewdness exercis'd!