Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature Rose of King Charles II Aphra Behn

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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Jacob van Loo. Amarillis Crowning Mirtillo, 1640-60.
Jacob van Loo. Amarillis Crowning Mirtillo, 1640-60.

To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me,
Imagined More Than Woman

Fair lovely maid, or if that title be
Too weak, too feminine for nobler thee,
Permit a name that more approaches truth:
And let me call thee, lovely charming youth.
This last will justify my soft complaint,
While that may serve to lessen my constraint;
And without blushes I the youth pursue,
When so much beauteous woman is in view,
Against thy charms we struggle but in vain
With thy deluding form thou giv'st us pain,
While the bright nymph betrays us to the swain.
In pity to our sex sure thou wert sent,
That we might love, and yet be innocent:
For sure no crime with thee we can commit;
Or if we should — thy form excuses it.
For who, that gathers fairest flowers believes
A snake lies hid beneath the fragrant leaves.

      Thou beauteous wonder of a different kind,
Soft Cloris with the dear Alexis joined;
When ere the manly part of thee, would plead
Thou tempts us with the image of the maid,
While we the noblest passions do extend
The love to Hermes, Aphrodite the friend.

Early Modern Women's Writing. Paul Salzman, ed.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 386-387.

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