Katherine Philips


There's no such thing as pleasure here,
    'Tis all a perfect cheat,
Which does but shine and disappear,
    Whose charm is but deceit:
The empty bribe of yielding souls,
Which first betrays, and then controls.

'Tis true, it looks at distance fair,
    But if we do approach,
The fruit of Sodom will impair,
    And perish at a touch;
It being than in fancy less,
And we expect more than possess.

For by our pleasures we are cloy'd
    And so desire is done;
Or else, like rivers, they make wide
    The channels where they run;
And either way true bliss destroys,
Making us narrow, or our joys.

We covet pleasure easily,
    But ne'er true bliss possess;
For many things must make it be,
    But one may make it less.
Nay, were our state as we would choose it,
'Twould be consumed by fear to lose it.

What art thou, then, thou wingëd air,
    More weak and swift than fame?
Whose next successor is despair,
    And its attendant shame.
Th' experienced prince then reason had
Who said of Pleasure,—"It is mad."

The Female Poets of Great Britain.
Frederic Rowton, ed.
Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1849. 67-8.

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