Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain



WOMAN! when I behold thee flippant, vain,
Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies;
Without that modest softening that enhances
The downcast eye, repentant of the pain
That its mild light creates to heal again:
Een then, elate, my spirit leaps, and prances,
Een then my soul with exultation dances
For that to love, so long, Ive dormant lain:
But when I see thee meek, and kind, and tender,
Heavens! how desperately do I adore
Thy winning graces; - to be thy defender
I hotly burn - to be a Calidore -
A very Red Cross Knight - a stout Leander -
Might I be loved by thee like these of yore.

Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair;
Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast,
Are things on which the dazzled senses rest
Till the fond, fixed eyes, forget they stare.
From such fine pictures, heavens! I cannot dare
To turn my admiration, though unpossessd
They be of what is worthy, - though not drest
In lovely modesty, and virtues rare.
Yet these I leave as thoughtless as a lark;
These lures I straight forget - een ere I dine,
Or thrice my palate moisten: but when I mark
Such charms with mild intelligences shine,
My ear is open like a greedy shark,
To catch the tunings of a voice divine.

Ah! who can eer forget so fair a being?
Who can forget her half retiring sweets?
God! she is like a milk-white lamb that bleats
For mans protection. Surely the All-seeing,
Who joys to see us with his gifts agreeing,
Will never give him pinions, who intreats
Such innocence to ruin, - who vilely cheats
A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing
Ones thoughts from such a beauty; when I hear
A lay that once I saw her hand awake,
Her form seems floating palpable, and near;
Had I eer seen her from an arbour take
A dewy flower, oft would that hand appear,
And oer my eyes the trembling moisture shake.

Poems (1817)