“To Mrs. S— on presenting the Author with a Lock of her Hair”
The Poets, Madam, all aver,
That once the ruthless god of war,
Who, bred amid the din of arms,
Defy’d the pow’r of beauty’s charms;
And long had proudly scorn’d to wear, 5
The pleasing fetters of the fair.
Struck with the graceful air and mein,
And roseat bloom of Cyprus’ queen;
His savage fierceness all forbore,
Subdued by Venus, magic lore; 10
And soon became her pow’r to prove,
A convert to the force of love.
The wily Goddess, then, ‘tis said,
All with an heavenly tempered brede;
Of net-work circled him around, 15
And to her snowy bosom bound:
Secur’d the conquest of her eyes,
And by the rulers of the skies;
From the fierce God of war so tamed,
Thence forth was beauties goddess named. 20
Thus say the poets, who in fiction,
In figure and in contradiction,
To all the laws of modest nature,
Trick out a strange romantic creature;
Which, after all, they queintly feign, 25
No where exists but in the brain.
Might I the genuine truth reveal,
And would you listen to the tale;
Would you, more kindly still supply,
Whate’er I pass in silence by? 30
Whose was the dull, insensate breast,
Which beauty’s pow’r at length confess’d;
Who soon became that power to prove,
A convert to the force of love:
Wou’d you conceive who ‘tis I mean, 35
Then would I thus the rest explain:
The heavenly net-work, Venus snare,
Was this — a ringlet of her hair;
And she, to give her all her due,
Some faint resemblance was of–you. 40
Title Mrs. S— Unable to identify.
2 god of war In Roman mythology, Mars.
7 mein “Physical strength, force or power” (OED).
8 roseat “Resembling or suggestive of a rose, esp.in colour” (OED); Cyprus’ queen Probably Cleopatra of Egypt, renowned for her beauty, who was given control of the island through her alliance with Marc Antony (Encyclopedia Britannica).
10 Venus In Roman mythology, the goddess of love.
14 brede “Anything plaited, entwined, or interwoven” (OED).
25 queintly An older spelling of quaintly (OED).
31 insensate “Destitute of physical sense or feeling” (OED).
Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (April 1770), p. 183.
Edited by Matthew Bragg