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Agawą teiniciög nature sees
WILLIAM COWPER. 1731–1800.
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
An Heroi-Comical Poem.
Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos ;
CANTO I. W!
HAT dire offence from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things, I sing-This verse to Caryl, muse! is due : This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view : Slight is the subject, but not so the praise, If she inspire, and he approve my lays.
Say what strange motive, goddess ! could compel A well-bred lord to assault a gentle belle ? O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd, Could make a gentle belle reject a lord ? In tasks so bold can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage?
Sol through white curtains shot a timorous ray, And op'd those eyes that must eclipse the day. Now lap-dogs give themselves the rouzing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake : Thricerung the bell, the slipper knock'd the ground, And the press'd watch return'd a silver sound. Vol. II.
When Florio speaks, what virgin could withstand,
*Of these am I, who thy protection claim,
He said ; when Shock, who thought she slept too
Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue.
And now, unveil'd, the toilet stands display'd,
The tortoise here and elephant unite,
CANTO II. NOT with more glories, in the ethereal plain,
The sun first rises o'er the purpled main, Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams Launch'd on the bosom of the silver Thames. Fair nymphs, and well-dress'd youths around her
shone, But every eye was fix'd on her alone, On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore, Which Jews might kiss, and Infidels adore. Her lively looks a sprightly mind disclose, Quick as her eyes, and as unfix'd as those : Favours to none, to all she smiles extends : Oft she rejects, but never once offends. Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike, And, like the sun, they shine on all alike. Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride, Might hide her faults, if belles had faults to hide : If to her share some female errors fall, Look on her face, and you'll forget them all.
This nymph, to the destruction of mankind, Nourish'd two locks, which graceful hung behind In equal curls, and well conspir'd to deck With shining ringlets the smooth ivory neck.
Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains,
The' adventurous baron the bright locks admir'd;
For this, ere Phæbus rose, he had implor'd Propitious Heav'n, and every pow'r ador'd, But chiefly Love-to Love an altar built, Of twelve vast French romances, neatly guilt. There lay three garters, half a pair of gloves, And all the trophies of his former loves ; With tender billet-doux he lights the pyre, And breathes three amorous sighs to raise the fire. Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize: The pow'rs gave ear, and granted half his pray'r, The rest the winds dispers’d in empty air.
But now secure the painted vessel glides, The sun-beams trembling on the floating tides; While melting music steals upon the sky, And soften'd sounds along the waters die : Smooth flow the waves, the zephyrs gently play, Belinda smil'd, and all the world was gay. All but the sylph-with careful thoughts opprest, The' impending woe sat heavy on his breast. He summons straight his denizens of air; The lucid squadrons round the sails repair : Soft o'er the shrouds aërial whispers breathe, That seem'd but zephyrs to the train beneath, Some to the sun their insect-wings unfold, Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold; Transparent forms too fine for mortal sight, Their fluid bodies half dissolv'd in light,