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Fair is my love, and cruel as she's fair;
Her brow shades frowns, although her eyes are sunny,
Her smiles are lightning, though her pride despair,
And her disdains are gall, her favours honey:
A modest maid, deck'd with a blush of honour,
Whose feet do tread green paths of youth and love;
The wonder of all eyes that look upon her,
Sacred on earth, design'd a saint above.
Chastity and Beauty, which were deadly foes,
Live reconciled friends within her brow;
And had she Pity to conjoin with those,
Then who had heard the plaints I utter now?
For had she not been fair, and thus unkind,
My Muse had slept, and none had known my mind.
Why should I sing in verse, why should I frame
These sad neglected notes for her dear sake?
Why should I offer up unto her name
The sweetest sacrifice my youth can make ?
Why should I strive to make her live for ever,
That never deigns to give me joy to live?
Why should my afflicted Muse so much endeavour
Such honour unto cruelty to give?
If her defects have purchas'd her this fame,
What should her virtues do, her smiles, her love?
If this her worst, how should her best infláme?
What passions would her milder favours move?
Favours, I think, would sense quite overcome,
And that makes happy lovers ever dumb.
Restore thy tresses to the golden ore,
Yield Cytherea's son those arcs of love;
Bequeath the heavens the stars that I adore,
And to th’ orient do thy pearls remove;
Yield thy hand's pride unto the ivory white,
Th’ Arabian odours give thy breathing sweet,
Restore thy blush unto Aurora bright,
To Thetis give the honour of thy feet;
Let Venus have thy graces, her resign’d,
And thy sweet voice give back unto the spheres ;
But yet restore thy fierce and cruel mind
To Hyrcan tigers and to ruthless bears ;
Yield to the marble thy hard heart again :
So shalt thou cease to plague, and I to pain.
And yet I cannot reprehend the flight,
Or blame th' attempt presuming so to soar ;
The mounting venture for a high delight
Did make the honour of the fall the more :
For who gets wealth that puts not from the shore?
Danger hath honour, great designs their fame,
Glory doth follow, courage goes before;
And though th' event oft answers not the same,
Suffice that high attempts have never shame.
The mean observer, whom base safety keeps,
Lives without honour, dies without a name,
And in eternal darkness ever sleeps:
And therefore, Delia, 'tis to me no blot,
To have attempted, though attain’d thee not.
I once may see when years shall wreak my wrong,
When golden hairs shall change to silver wire;
And those bright rays that kindle all this fire
Shall fail in force, their working not so strong.
Then Beauty, now the burthen of my song,
Whose glorious blaze the world doth so admire,
Must yield up all to tyrant Time's desire;
Then fade those flowers that deck'd her pride so long.
When, if she grieve to gaze her in her glass,
Which then presents her winter-wither'd hue,
Go you, my verse, go tell her what she was ;
For, what she was she best shall find in you:
Your fiery heat lets not her glory pass,
But (Phænix-like) shall make her live anew.