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WHILST what I write I do not see,
I dare thus, ev'n to you, write poetry.

Ah, foolish Muse! which dost so high aspire,
And know'st her judgment well,
How much it does thy power excel,

Yet dar'st be read by, thy just doom, the fire.

Alas! thou think'st thyself secure, Because thy form is innocent and pure: Like hypocrites, which seem unspotted here; But, when they sadly come to die, And the last fire their truth must try, Scrawl'd o'er like thee, and blotted, they appear.

Go then, but reverently go, And, since thou needs must sin, confess it too: Confess’t, and with humility clothe thy shame; For thou, who else must burned be An heretick, if she pardon thee, Mayst like a martyr then enjoy the flame.

But, if her wisdom grow severe,
And suffer not her goodness to be there;
If her large mercies cruelly' it restrain;
Be not discourag'd, but require
A more gentle ordeal fire,
And bid her by Love's flames read it again.

Strange power of heat! thou yet dost show Like winter-earth, naked or cloth'd with snow : But as, the quickening sun approaching near, The plants arise up by degrees; A sudden paint adorns the trees, And all kind Nature's characters appear.

So, nothing yet in thee is seen; ,
But, when a genial heat warms thee within,
A new-born wood of various lines there grows;
Here buds an A, and there a B,
Here sprouts a V, and there a T,
And all the flourishing letters stand in rows.

Still, silly paper thou wilt think That all this might as well be writ with ink: Oh, no; there’s sense in this, and mystery— Thou now mayst change thy author's name, And to her hand lay noble claim; For, as she reads, she makes, the words in thee.

Yet—if thine own unworthiness Will still that thou art mine, not hers confess— Consume thyself with fire before her eyes, And so her grace or pity move : The gods, though beasts they do not love, Yet like them when they’re burnt in sacrifice.



FIVE years ago (says Story) I lov'd you,
For which you call me most inconstant now;
Pardon me, Madam : you mistake the man,
For I am not the same that I was then ;
No flesh is now the same 't was then in me;
And that my mind is chang’d, yourself may see.
The same thoughts to retain still, and intents,
Were more inconstant far; for accidents
Must of all things most strangely inconstant prove,
If from one subject they to another move;
My members then the father-members were
From whence these take their birth which now are
If then this body love what th' other did,
"T were incest; which by Nature is forbid.
You might as well this day inconstant name,
Because the weather is not still the same
That it was yesterday—or blame the year,
'Cause the spring flowers, and autumn fruit, does
The world’s a scene of changes; and to be
Constant, in Nature were inconstancy;
For ’t were to break the laws herself has made :
Our substances themselves do fleet and fade;
The most fix’d being still does move and fly,
Swift as the wings of time ’t is measur’d by.

To imagine then that Love should never cease
(Love, which is but the ornament of these)
Were quite as senseless, as to wonder why
Beauty and colour stay not when we die.


*TIS very true, I thought you once as fair
As women in th’ idea are;
Whatever here seems beauteous, seem'd to be
But a faint metaphor of thee:
But then, methoughts, there something shin'd
Which cast this lustre o'er thy skin;
Nor could I choose but count it the sun's light,
Which made this cloud appear so bright.
But, since I knew thy falsehood and thy pride,
And all thy thousand faults beside,
A very Moor, methinks, plac'd near to thee,
White as his teeth would seem to be.
So men (they say) by hell's delusions led,
Have ta'en a succubus to their bed;
Believe it fair, and themselves happy call,
Till the cleft foot discovers all :
Then they start from 't, half ghosts themselves with
And devil, as 'tis, it doth appear.

So, since against my will I found thee foul,
Deform'd and crooked in thy soul,
My reason straight did to my senses shew,
That they might be mistaken too:
Nay, when the world but knows how false you are,
There's not a man will think you fair;
Thy shape will monstrous in their fancies be,
They'll call their eyes as false as thee.
Be what thou wilt, hate will present thee so
As Puritans do the Pope, and Papists Luther do.


INDEED I must confess,
When souls mix’t is an happiness;
But not complete till bodies too combine,
And closely as our minds together join :
But half of heaven the souls in glory taste,
Till by love in heaven, at last,
Their bodies too are plac'd.

In thy immortal part
Man, as well as I, thou art;
But something’t is that differs thee and me;
And we must one even in that difference be.
I thee, both as a man and woman, prize;
For a perfect love implies
Love in all capacities.

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