Select poems by Elizabeth Singer Rowe

A Paraphrase on the CANTICLES. CHAP. V.


On the works of CREATION.

A Paraphrase on the CANTICLES. CHAP. V.

The Night her blackest Vestments had put on,
And all the fair remains of day were gone:
When my dear Lord, as he had oft before,
With Speed and Love approach'd the bolted Door:
Arise, my Love, he cries, and with a Voice, 5
Divinely charming, pleads his entrance thus;
My Spouse, my Sister, and my fairest Love,
(Believing, sure, that Dialect would move;)
Arise, for loaden with the Midnight Dew,
Disorder'd, all my streaming Tresses flew: 10
I knew the Voice, the moving Eloquence;
But ah! deluded by my drowsie sence;
Careless, and Soft, upon a Mossy Bed,
I lean'd Supine, with Odorous Roses spread;
And long, with weak Excuses, did delay, 15
Amazing him at my unwonted stay.
Mov'd, with his Patience, my unrelenting Breast,
Forgetting now to say, I am Undrest.
Unto the Door, at length, I rusht, in spite
Of Darkness, and the Terrors of the Night; 20
With Rage, to break the guilty Bars I try'd,
Which Entrance to my Lord so long deny'd:
But found the dear resenting Charmer fled,
I curs'd my Sloth, and curs'd my conscious Bed.
Yet such a fragrant Sweetness fill'd the Air 25
From his dear Hands, I thought he had still been there.
I call'd aloud, still hoping he was near,
And louder still, but Ah! he wou'd not hear.
Then thro' the Streets, distracted with my Grief
I wildly roving, begg'd of all, relief. 30
At least I met th'ungentle Watch, and they
Deride my Tears, and force my Veil away.
Ye tender Virgins! you that know the pain
A Breast so soft as mine must needs sustain,
Robb'd of the once kind Partner of my Fires, 35
And still dear Object of my rackt desires;
I charge you, if you meet my absent Love,
With all the Rhetorick of our Sex, to move
His deafn'd Ears; and tell him, with a Sigh,
Deep as my Wounds, ah tell him how I dy. 40
--Perhaps that Tragick Word may force the dear
Relentless Author of my Grief to hear.

Daughters of Jerusalem.
What thy Beloved is, we first wou'd know,
Fairest of Women! thou dost charge us so.
What Charms unequal'd in him dost thou see, 45
Impatient Fair! to raise these Storms in thee?

Commencing all Perfection, he is such
Your most exalted Thoughts can hardly touch.
Unsully'd heaps of Snow are not so white,
He's Fairer than condensed Beams of Light. 50
His Rosy Cheeks of such a lucent Dy,
As Sol ne're gilded on the morning Sky.
His Head like polish'd Gold, his graceful Hair,
Dark as the Plumes that jetty Ravens wear.
His Eyes, the endless Magazines of Love, 55
How soft! how sweet! how powerfully they move!
He breathes more sweetness than the Infant Morn,
When Heavenly Dews the Flowry Plains Adorn,
The Fragrant Drops of Rich Arabian Gums
Burnt on the Altar, yield not such Perfumes. 60
His Hands, surpassing Lillies, grac'd with Gems,
Fit to Enrich Coelestial Diadems.
His Breast smooth Ivory, Enamel'd all
With Veins, which Saphirs 'twere unjust to call.
Divine his Steps, with his Majestick Air, 65
Not ev'n the Lofty Cedars can compare.
So sweet his Voice, the listning Angels throng
With silent Harps to th' Musick of his Tongue.
--He's altogether--Lovely, This is He,
Now Virgins! Pity, tho' you envy Me. 70

But where, ah where can this bright wonder be?
For, till we see Him, we are all on Fire;
We'll find Him out, or in the search Expire.

If my Prophetick Hopes can rightly guess,
The Lovely Wanderer in his GARDEN is 5
Among the Lillies, and the Spices; He
Is now perhaps kindly expecting Me;
Oh 'tis a Heaven of Joy to think him Mine.
WHATE'ER delights the verdant field,
The grove, and mossy fountain yield;
Whate'er the gentle, blooming spring,
Or summer in their glory bring;
Let them all conspire to bless 5
Belinda, in her soft recess.
All ye tuneful feather'd throng,
Salute her in your artless song.
Ye Zephyrs flying thro' the vales,
Meet her with your fragrant gales, 10
Ye purling brooks, indulge her sleep,
And gently by your borders creep.
Whene'er she wanders o'er the green,
Let all Arcadia there be seen.
May the charming visions rise, 15
That dance before the poet's eyes,
When the solitary muse
Does rural shades its subject chuse;
While nymphs, like Stairs, adorn the scene,
Graceful, like her's, their looks and mien. 20

HENCE ye gilded toys of state,
Ye formal follies of the great,
Nor e'er disturb this peaceful seat.
No sound of faction hither fly,
Ambition, hate, or jealousy. 25
No envious tattle enter here,
That wrongs the innocent and fair:
But let the graces and the loves
Wander round these gentle groves,
And banish from Belinda's breast, 30
Whatever may her joys molest;
While here she finds that soft repose,
Which from virtue only flows.

On the works of CREATION.

BEAUTY complete, and majesty divine,
In all thy works, ador'd Creator, shine.
Where'er I cast my wond'ring eyes around,
The God I seek in ev'ry part is found.
Pursuing thee, the flow'ry fields I trace,
And read thy name on ev'ry spire of grass.
I follow thee thro' many a lonely shade,
And find thee in the solitary glade.
I meet thee in the kind, refreshing gale,
That gently passes thro' the dewy vale. 10
The pink, the jess'min, and the purple rose,
Perfum'd by thee, their fragrant leaves disclose.
The feather'd choir that welcome in the spring,
By thee were taught their various notes to sing.
By thee the morning in her crimson vest,
And ornaments of golden clouds is drest.
The sun, in all his splendor, wears thy beams,
And drinks in light from thy exhaustless streams.
The moon reveals thee by her glimm'ring ray;
Unnumber'd stars thy glorious paths display. 20
Amidst the solemn darkness of the night,
The thoughts of God my musing soul delight.
Thick shades and night thy dread pavilion form;
In state thou rid'st upon the flying storm;
While thy strong hand its fiercest rage restrains,
And holds the wild, unmanag'd winds in reins.
What sparklings of thy majesty appear,
When thro' the firmament swift lightnings glare?
When peals of thunder fill the skies around,
I hear thy voice in the tremendous sound. 30
But oh! how small a part is known of thee,
From all thy works immense variety?
Whatever mortal men perfection name,
Thou, in an infinite degree, dost claim.

AND while I here thy faintest shadows trace,
I pine to see the glories of thy face;
Where beauty in its never changing height,
And uncreated excellence shines bright.
When shall the heav'nly scene; without controul,
Open in dazzling triumph on my soul? 40
My pow'rs with all their ardor shall adore,
And languish for terrestrial charms no more.

from The poetry of Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674-1737), ed. and intro. by Madeleine Forell Marshall (Lewiston: E. Mellen, [1987]).