“The Rise of Tea”
Think not, ye fair, deceiv’d by poet’s lays,
Cupid in sloth inglorious melts his days;
Think not enchain’d on Chloe’s breast he lies,
Or bathes himself in Delia’s languid eyes;
Now here, now there, the wanton wanderer roves 5
O’er Belgia’s waters, or Italia’s groves;
Now soothes the hearts of Gallia’s silken swains,
Now fires the tawny youth on Java’s plains.
As o’er luxurious China’s fields he sails,
Upborn by lovers sighs, and balmy gales, 10
Deep in the bosom of a fragrant glade,
Where pines, slow-moving, form’d a dancing shade,
Where Zephyr stole the rose’s rich perfume,
And wakeful almonds shook their snowy bloom,
Crown’d with rough thickets rose a moss-grown cave, 15
Whose tinkling sides pour down a sparkling wave:
Unwilling to desert its native groves,
The ling’ring stream in flow’ry lab’rinths roves;
The god of love feeds his insatiate sight,
Slow wave his loose wings, and retard his flight. 20
But say, what soft confusion seiz’d thy breast,
What heaving sighs thy instant flame confest,
When Thea broke from Morpheus’ dewy arms,
Rose from the grot, and blaz’d in all her charms?
Its swelling orb no hoop enormous spread, 25
Like magic sphere to guard the tim’rous maid;
No torturing stays the yielding waist confin’d,
A bliss for lover’s arms alone design’d;
Her hair, by no malicious art repress’d
Play’d in the wind, and wanton’d o’e her breast. 30
Jove grew a swan to press the Spartan fair:
What form to taste those charms would Cupid wear?
Quick thro’ the sounding grove the god descends,
Quick at her feet the sighing suppliant bends.
Can you be deaf when Syren passion sues? 35
Or how can beauty fly, when love pursues?
No more he seeks the Cyprian’s smoaking fanes,
Or sips rich nectar in celestial plains;
In Thea’s heart a flame more pleasing glows,
And from her lips more luscious nectar flows. 40
Venus, indignant, saw her power decay,
And rush’d impetuous through the realms of day:
Thus dost thou guard thy once-lov’d parent’s throne
Shall then the rebel power my power disown?
See! where the fatal cause of my disgrace 45
(Each hateful beauty glowing in her face)
Insulting stands!—–There let her fixt remain,
Nor be the anger of a goddess vain.
To kneel to sue she strove, unhappy maid!
In vain, her stiffening knees refuse their aid: 50
Her arms she lifts with pain, in wild surprize
She starts to see a verdant branch arise:
O Love! she try’d to say, thy Thea aid,
Her ruddy lips the envious leaves invade:
Yet then, just sinking from his tortur’d view, 55
Her swimming eyes languish’d a last adieu.
Venus triumphant, with a scornful smile,
Points to the tree, and seeks the Cyprian isle.
Her mark’d the goddess with indignant eyes,
And grief and rage, alternate tyrants, rise. 60
Then sighing o’er the vegetable fair,
Yet still, he said, thou claim’st thy Cupid’s care!
Her arts no more shall Cytherea prove,
But own my Thea aids the cause of love.
To the free isle, I’ll give thy rights divine, 65
To nymphs, whose charms alone can equal thine,
For thee the toiling sons of Ind’ shall drain
The honey’d sponge, which swells the leafy cane:
The gentle Naiads to thy shrine shall bring
The limpid treasures of the crystal spring; 70
Thy verdant bloom shall stain the glowing stream,
Diffusing fragrance in the quivering stream;
Around thy painted altar’s brittle pride
Shall dimpled smiles and sleek-brow’d health preside,
Whilst white-rob’d nymphs display each milder grace, 75
The morning dream just glowing on each face.
With joy I see, in ages yet unborn,
Thy votaries the British isle adorn.
With joy I see enamour’d youths despise
The goblet’s lustre for the fair one’s eyes: 80
Till rosy Bacchus shall his wreaths resign,
And Love and Thea triumph o’er the vine.
2 Cupid, The roman god of love, son of Venus goddess of love. His Greek name is Eros (OED).
6 Belgia Belgium; Italia Italy.
7 Gallia France.
12 Zephyr God of the west wind, often associated with summer and sweetness (OED).
23 Thea The nymph personification of tea; Morpheus God of sleep (OED).
31 Jove, Jupiter, king of the gods and god of the heavens. He is also remembered as Zeus, his name among the Greeks (OED); a swan to press the Spartan fair Leda of Sparta, who was raped by Zeus in the form of a swan, giving birth to Helen of Troy, famous for her role in the Iliad (Encyclopedia Britannica).
35 Syren Enchanting woman-bird hybrid that appears in the Odyssey. They are known for their song that can enchant any man, creating a deadly love that causes sailors to dash their ships against rocks pursuing them (OED).
37 the Cyprian An epithet for Aphrodite/Venus; fanes “Temples” (OED).
38 Nectar The drink of the gods. Related to Ambrosia, another drink of the gods. This could possibly refer to both the nectar of the gods, and the nectar of flowering plants (OED).
41 Venus Goddess of love, mother of Cupid, also called Aphrodite among the Greeks. She is storied to be a jealous deity who lashes out against women who are called more beautiful than her, such as Psyche legendary wife of Cupid (OED).
63 Cytherea Another name for Venus. This name refers to the Greek island Cythera, which like Cyprus was significant to the worship of Venus (OED).
67 Ind’ An “earlier name for the country now called India” (OED).
69 Naiad A water nymph (OED).
81 Bacchus Roman god of wine and revelry (OED).
Source: The Annual Register (1761), pp. 261-262.
Edited by Daniel Chiu