Ben Jonson



His Discourse with Cupid

Noblest Charis, you that are
Both my fortune and my star !
And do govern more my blood,
Than the various Moon the flood !
Hear, what late discourse of you,
Love and I have had ;  and true.
'Mongst my Muses finding me,
Where he chanced your name to see
Set, and to this softer strain ;
Sure, said he, if I have brain,
This, here sung, can be no other,
By description, but my Mother !
So hath Homer praised her hair ;
So Anacreon drawn the air
Of her face, and made to rise
Just about her sparkling eyes,
Both her brows bent like my bow.
By her looks I do her know,
Which you call my shafts.   And see !
Such my Mother's blushes be,
As the bath your verse discloses
In her cheeks, of milk and roses ;
Such as oft I wanton in ;
And, above her even chin,
Have you placed the bank of kisses,
Where, you say, men gather blisses,
Ripened when a breath more sweet,
Than when flowers and west winds meet.
Nay, her white and polish'd neck,
With the lace that doth it deck,
Is my Mother's !   Hearts of slain
Lovers, made into a chain !
And between each rising breast,
Lies the valley call'd my nest,
Where I sit and proyne my wings
After flight ;  and put new stings
To my shafts.   Her very name
With my Mother's is the same.
I confess all, I replied,
And the grass hangs by her side,
And the girdle 'bout her waist,
All is Venus, save unchaste.
But alas, thou seest the least
Of her good, who is the best
Of her sex :  but couldst thou, Love,
Call to mind the forms that strove
For the apple, and those three
Make in one, the same were she.
For this beauty yet doth hide
Something more than thou hast spied.
Outward grace weak Love beguiles :
She is Venus when she smiles ;
But she's Juno when she walks,
And Minerva when she talks.

The Songs and Poems of Ben Jonson.
London: Philip Allan & Co., 1924. 25-26.

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