A BIRTH-DAY OFFERING TO A YOUNG LADY. FROM HER LOVER.
1 ERE this short winter's day be gone,
2 My MARY ANNE is twenty one.
3 Of days still shorter just a Lent,
4 Patch'd up from different years, is spent,
5 Since her Devoted fairly reckon'd
6 The close of year the thirty-second.
7 Bending beneath the weight of years,
8 Full as infirm as he appears,
9 What can a worn-out lover do,
10 With twenty-one, at thirty-two?
11 For such a phrenzy no defence is —
12 The girl has clearly lost her senses.
13 Perhaps deceiv'd by some fond notion,
14 Embrac'd in rapture of devotion,
15 (I quote such fancies to expose 'em)
16 She dreams of bliss in Abraham's bosom;
17 And chuses an Antique the rather,
18 With better grace to call him father.
19 Perhaps — but fiction be suppress'd,
20 While real joy expands my breast —[Page 163]
21 My faithful flame her heart approves;
22 And O! transporting thought! she loves.
23 When Souls, by impulse sympathetick,
24 By intuition most prophetick,
25 By feelings, which they cannot smother,
26 Leap at first glance to meet each other,
27 When each itself in t'other traces,
28 What matter for their different cases?
29 Of kin, perhaps, in pre-existence,
30 Without dull Reason's slow assistance,
31 They recollect the happy union,
32 And long to recommence communion.
33 I must confess that such attraction,
34 For ease, convenience, satisfaction,
35 Were best if, on deliberation,
36 It met with Reason's approbation:
37 Not as of absolute dominion,
38 To rule by dint of dark opinion;
39 Not as a Lord of sovereign sway,
40 Whom love must worship and obey;
41 But merely as the herd inferior
42 May judge the acts of Powers superior;
43 As my poor intellect, or thine,
44 May scan authority divine —
45 In short, I'd have our simple love,
46 Not against reason, but above.
47 Two birds, suppose, of various feather,
48 Hung in one room by chance together,[Page 164]
49 To airs melodious tune their voices,
50 While each the other's ear rejoices:
51 If, without half a note erroneous,
52 The song be perfectly harmonious,
53 What matter for the forms or ages,
54 Of bills, of feathers, and of cages?
55 DEAN SWIFT, whose talent lives no more,
56 His Stella sung at forty-four;
57 And breath'd an idle wish to split
58 In twain her beauty, years, and wit —
59 Of half her charms he made a proffer
60 For youth; but Time disdain'd his offer.
61 Far happier I, who well could spare,
62 Of each accomplishment a share,
63 Yet leave an ample store of charms,
64 To bring Elysium to my arms,
65 Am not reduc'd those charms to barter,
66 And cry to heedless Time for quarter —
67 Fly, Sluggard, on thy swiftest wing,
68 My charmer yields not All till Spring!
69 Then, firm in Constancy's reliance,
70 I bid thy cruel scythe defiance;
71 Deal when thou wilt the deadly blow,
72 Thou canst but separate below,
73 Thy first can but for moments sever,
74 Thy second re-unites for ever.
75 Perhaps, suspending mortal rage,
76 By silent sap, and creeping age,[Page 165]
77 By subtile, secret, slow approaches,
78 As mildew on the blade incroaches,
79 Thou hop'st, malignant fiend! to tame
80 The ardour of love's fiercest flame —
81 Vain shalt thou find thy keenest blast,
82 Bliss once possess'd, thy power is past.
83 Can years, while sense remains, destroy
84 The memory of transcendent joy?
85 Can years bright Innocence impair?
86 Can years make Virtue look less fair?
87 But Beauty, by thy influence curst,
88 May sicken — Tyrant, do thy worst!
89 I know thy power, and am prepar'd
90 To meet thy sharpest darts unscar'd.
91 Though Body, Mind, thou canst controul,
92 Own thy survivor in the Soul;
93 Whose perfect bliss is not enjoy'd,
94 Till thou art utterly destroy'd.
95 Ev'n here, as health and beauty fail,
96 While lilies o'er the rose prevail,
97 Long ere thy menac'd ills can harm,
98 Though every hour should steal a charm —
99 Long ere, by twenty stars a day,
100 The spangled Heavens would wear away.
101 Unconscious of the gradual wane,
102 As years their empire slowly gain,
103 While my Ideas, in the race,
104 Observe a due-proportioned pace,[Page 166]
105 And limbs grow cold, and senses faulter,
106 I sha'nt perceive her Person alter.
107 When Age her dimpled cheek beguiles,
108 And wrinkles plants, instead of smiles,
109 Though every Cupid he should smother,
110 I'll think her handsome as their mother.
111 When, steady to his barbarous plan,
112 To spoil my lovely MARY ANNE,
113 The savage unrelenting creature
114 Has robb'd her face of every feature,
115 And, to conceptions merely common,
116 My charmer seems a plain old woman,
117 Still in my heart she'll hold her throne,
118 Still in my eyes be twenty-one.
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About this text
Author: George Canning
Themes: age; women; female character
References: DMI 32578
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Pearch, G. A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. III. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 162-166. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1136; OTA K093079.003) (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [(OC) 280 o.790].)
The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.