Celia To Damon

A poem by Matthew Prior

What can I say? What Arguments can prove
My Truth? What Colors can describe my Love?
If it's Excess and Fury be not known,
In what Thy Celia has already done?

Thy Infant Flames, whilst yet they were conceal'd
In tim'rous Doubts, with Pity I beheld;
With easie Smiles dispell'd the silent Fear,
That durst not tell Me, what I dy'd to hear:
In vain I strove to check my growing Flame,
Or shelter Passion under Friendship's Name:
You saw my Heart, how it my Tongue bely'd;
And when You press'd, how faintly I deny'd
E'er Guardian Thought could bring it's scatter'd Aid;
E'er Reason could support the doubting Maid;
My Soul surpriz'd, and from her self disjoin'd,
Left all Reserve, and all the Sex behind:
From your Command her Motions She receiv'd;
And not for Me, but You, She breath'd and liv'd.

But ever blest be Cytherea's Shrine;
And Fires Eternal on Her Altars shine;
Since Thy dear Breast has felt an equal Wound;
Since in Thy Kindness my Desires are crown'd.
By Thy each Look, and Thought, and Care 'tis shown,
Thy Joys are center'd All in Me Alone;
And sure I am, Thou would'st not change this Hour
For all the white Ones, Fate has in it's Pow'r.

Yet thus belov'd, thus loving to Excess;
Yet thus receiving and returning Bliss;
In this great Moment, in this golden Now,
When ev'ry Trace of What, or When, or How
Should from my Soul by raging Love be torn,
And far on Swelling Seas of Rapture born;
A melancholy Tear afflicts my Eye;
And my Heart labours with a sudden Sigh:
Invading Fears repel my Coward Joy;
And Ills foreseen the present Bliss destroy.

Poor as it is, This Beauty was the Cause,
That with first Sighs Your panting Bosom rose:
But with no Owner Beauty long will stay,
Upon the Wings of Time born swift away:
Pass but some fleeting Years, and These poor Eyes
(Where now without a Boast some Lustre lyes)
No longer shall their little Honors keep;
Shall only be of use to read, or weep:
And on this Forehead, where your Verse has said,
The Loves delighted, and the Graces play'd;
Insulting Age will trace his cruel Way,
And leave sad Marks of his destructive Sway.

Mov'd by my Charms, with them your Love may cease,
And as the Fuel sinks, the Flame decrease:
Or angry Heav'n may quicker Darts prepare;
And Sickness strike what Time awhile would spare.
Then will my Swain His glowing Vows renew:
Then will His throbbing Heart to Mine beat true;
When my own Face deters Me from my Glass;
And Kneller only shows what Celia was.

Fantastic Fame may sound her wild Alarms:
Your Country, as You think, may want your Arms.
You may neglect, or quench, or hate the Flame,
Whose Smoke too long obscured your rising Name:
And quickly cold Indiff'rence will ensue;
When You Love's Joys thro' Honor's Optic view.

Then Celia's loudest Pray'r will prove too weak,
To this abandon'd Breast to bring You back;
When my lost Lover the tall Ship ascends,
With Musick gay, and wet with Jovial Friends:
The tender Accents of a Woman's Cry
Will pass unheard, will unreguarded die;
When the rough Seaman's louder Shouts prevail;
When fair Occasion shows the springing Gale;
And Int'rest guides the Helm; and Honor swells the Sail.

Some wretched Lines from this neglected Hand,
May find my Hero on the foreign Strand,
Warm with new Fires, and pleas'd with new Command:
While She who wrote 'em, of all Joy bereft,
To the rude Censure of the World is left;
Her mangl'd Fame in barb'rous Pastime lost,
The Coxcomb's Novel, and the Drunkard's Toast.

But nearer Care (O pardon it!) supplies
Sighs to my Breast, and Sorrow to my Eyes.
Love, Love himself (the only Friend I have)
May scorn his Triumph, having bound his Slave.
That Tyrant God, that restless Conqueror
May quit his Pleasure, to assert his Pow'r;
Forsake the Provinces that bless his Sway,
To vanquish Those which will not yet obey.
Another Nymph with fatal Pow'r may rise,
To damp the sinking Beams of Celia's Eyes;
With haughty Pride may hear Her Charms confest;
And scorn the ardent Vows that I have blest:
You ev'ry Night may sigh for Her in vain;
And rise each Morning to some fresh Disdain:
While Celia's softest Look may cease to Charm;
And Her Embraces want the Pow'r to warm:
While these fond Arms, thus circling You, may prove
More heavy Chains, than Those of hopeless Love.

Just Gods! All other Things their Like produce:
The Vine arises from her Mother's Juice:
When feeble Plants, or tender Flow'rs decay;
They to their Seed their Images convey:
Where the old Myrtle her good Influence sheds;
Sprigs of like Leaf erect their Filial Heads:
And when the Parent Rose decays, and dies;
With a resembling Face the Daughter-Buds arise.
That Product only which our Passions bear,
Eludes the Planter's miserable Care:
While blooming Love assures us Golden Fruit;
Some inborn Poison taints the secret Root:
Soon fall the Flow'rs of Joy: soon Seeds of Hatred shoot.

Say, Shepherd, say: Are these Reflections true?
Or was it but the Woman's Fear, that drew
This cruel Scene, unjust to Love and You?
Will You be only, and for ever Mine?
Shall neither Time, nor Age our Souls disjoin?
From this dear Bosom shall I ne'er be torn?
Or You grow cold, respectful, and forsworn?
And can You not for Her You love do more,
Than any Youth for any Nymph before?

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