An Ode : While Blooming Youth And Gay Delight

A poem by Matthew Prior

While blooming youth and gay delight
Sit on thy rosy cheeks confess'd,
Thou hast, my dear, undoubted right
To triumph o'er this destined breast.
My reason bends to what thy eyes ordain;
For I was born to love, and thou to reign.

But would you meanly thus rely
On power you know I must obey?
Exert a legal tyranny,
And do an ill because you may?
Still must I thee, as Atheists Heaven, adore;
Not see thy mercy, and yet dread thy power?

Take heed, my dear: youth flies apace;
As well as Cupid, Time is blind:
Soon must those glories of thy face
The fate of vulgar beauty find:
The thousand Loves, that arm thy potent eye,
Must drop their quivers, flag their wings, and die.

Then wilt thou sigh, when in each frown
A hateful wrinkle more appears:
And putting peevish humours on,
Seems but the sad effect of years:
Kindness itself too weak a charm will prove
To raise the feeble fires of aged love.

Forced compliments, and formal bows,
Will show thee just above neglect;
The heat with which thy lover glows,
Will settle into cold respect:
A talking dull Platonic I shall turn;
Learn to be civil, when I cease to burn.

Then, shun the ill, and know, my dear,
Kindness and constancy will prove
The only pillars, fit to bear
So vast a weight as that of love.
If thou canst wish to make my flames endure,
Thine must be very fierce, and very pure.

Haste, Celia, haste, while youth invites,
Obey kind Cupid's present voice;
Fill every sense with soft delights,
And give thy soul a loose to joys:
Let millions of repeated blisses prove
That thou all kindness art, and I all love.

Be mine, and only mine; take care
Thy looks, thy thoughts, thy dreams, to guide
To me alone; nor come so far,
As liking any youth beside:
What men e'er court thee, fly them, and believe
They're serpents all, and thou the tempted Eve.

So shall I court thy dearest truth,
When beauty ceases to engage;
So, thinking on thy charming youth,
I'll love it o'er again in age;
So time itself our raptures shall improve,
While still we wake to joy, and live to love.

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