Woman! When I Behold Thee Flippant, Vain


    Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain,
    Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies;
    Without that modest softening that enhances
    The downcast eye, repentant of the pain
    That its mild light creates to heal again:
    E'en then, elate, my spirit leaps, and prances,
    E'en then my soul with exultation dances
    For that to love, so long, I've dormant lain:
    But when I see thee meek, and kind, and tender,
    Heavens! how desperately do I adore
    Thy winning graces; to be thy defender
    I hotly burn to be a Calidore
    A very Red Cross Knight a stout Leander
    Might I be loved by thee like these of yore.

    Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair;
    Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast,
    Are things on which the dazzled senses rest
    Till the fond, fixed eyes, forget they stare.
    From such fine pictures, heavens! I cannot dare
    To turn my admiration, though unpossess'd
    They be of what is worthy, though not drest
    In lovely modesty, and virtues rare.
    Yet these I leave as thoughtless as a lark;
    These lures I straight forget e'en ere I dine,
    Or thrice my palate moisten: but when I mark
    Such charms with mild intelligences shine,
    My ear is open like a greedy shark,
    To catch the tunings of a voice divine.

    Ah! who can e'er forget so fair a being?
    Who can forget her half retiring sweets?
    God! she is like a milk-white lamb that bleats
    For man's protection. Surely the All-seeing,
    Who joys to see us with his gifts agreeing,
    Will never give him pinions, who intreats
    Such innocence to ruin, who vilely cheats
    A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing
    One's thoughts from such a beauty; when I hear
    A lay that once I saw her hand awake,
    Her form seems floating palpable, and near;
    Had I e'er seen her from an arbour take
    A dewy flower, oft would that hand appear,
    And o'er my eyes the trembling moisture shake.


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