An Ode To Mr. Howard

A poem by Matthew Prior

Dear Howard, from the soft assaults of love
Poets and painters never are secure;
Can I untouch'd the fair one's passions move,
Or thou draw beauty, and not feel its power?

To great Appelles when young Ammon brought
The darling idol of his captive heart;
And the pleased nymph with kind attention sat,
To have her charms recorded by his art:

The amorous master own'd her potent eyes:
Sigh'd when he look'd, and trembled as he drew:
Each flowing line confirm'd his first surprise,
And, as the piece advanced, the passion grew.

While Philip's son, while Venus' son, was near,
What different tortures does his bosom feel?
Great was the rival, and the god severe:
Nor could he hide his flame, nor durst reveal.

The prince, renown'd in bounty as in arms,
With pity saw the ill-conceal'd distress;
Quitted his title to Campaspe's charms,
And gave the fair one to the friend's embrace.

Thus the more beauteous Cloe sat to thee,
Good Howard, emulous of the Grecian art:
But happy thou, from Cupid's arrow free,
And flames that pierced thy predecessor's heart!

Had thy poor breast received an equal pain;
Had I been vested with the monarch's power;
Thou must have sigh'd, unlucky youth, in vain;
Nor from my bounty hadst thou found a cure.

Though, to convince thee that the friend did feel
A kind concern for thy ill-fated care,
I would have sooth'd thy flame I could not heal;
Given thee the world; though I withheld the fair.

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