John Gay (30 June 1685 – 4 December 1732 / Barnstaple, England)
The Fan : A Poem. Book II.
Olympus' gates unfold: in heaven's high towers
Appear in council all the immortal powers;
Great Jove above the rest exalted sate,
And in his mind revolv'd succeeding fate,
His awful eye with ray superior shone,
The thunder-grasping eagle guards his throne
On silver clouds the great assembly laid,
The whole creation at one view survey'd.
But see, fair Venus comes in all her state;
The wanton Loves and Graces round her wait;
With her loose robe officious Zephyrs play,
And strow with odoriferous flowers the way.
In her right hand she waves the fluttering fan,
And thus in melting sounds her speech began.
Assembled powers, who fickle mortals guide,
Who o'er the sea, the skies and earth preside,
Ye fountains whence all human blessings flow,
Who pour your bounties on the world below;
Bacchus first rais'd and prun'd the climbing vine,
And taught the grape to stream with generous wine;
Industrious Ceres tam'd the savage ground,
And pregnant fields with golden harvest crown'd;
Flora with bloomy sweets enrich'd the year,
And fruitful autumn in Pomona's care.
I first taught woman to subdue mankind,
And all her native charms with dress refin'd,
Celestian synod, this machine survey,
That shades the face, or bids cool zephyrs play;
If conscious blushes on her cheek arise,
With this she veils them from her lover's eyes;
No levell'd glance betrays her amorous heart,
From the fan's ambush she directs the dart.
The royal sceptre shines in Juno's hand,
And twisted thunder speaks great Jove's command;
On Pallas' arm the Gorgon shield appears,
And Neptune's mighty grasp the trident bears;
Ceres is with the bending suckle seen,
And the strong bow points out the Cynthian queen;
Henceforth the waving fan my hand shall grace,
The waving fan supply the sceptre's place.
Who shall, ye powers, the forming pencil hold?
What story shall the wide machine unfold?
Let Loves and Graces lead the dance around,
With myrtle wreaths and flowery chaplet's crown'd,
Let Cupid's arrows strow the smiling plains
With unresisting nymphs, and amorous swains:
May glowing picture o'er the surface shine,
To melt slow virgins with the warm design.
Diana rose; with silver crescent crown'd,
And fixt her modest eyes upon the ground;
Then with becoming mien she rais'd her head,
And thus with graceful voice the virgin said.
Has woman then forgot all former wiles,
The watchful ogle, and delusive smiles?
Does man against her charms too powerful prove,
Or are the sex grown novices in love?
Why then these arms? or why should artful eyes,
From this slight ambush, conquer by surprise?
No guilty thought the spotless virgin knows,
And o'er her cheek no conscious crimson glows;
Since blushes then from shame alone arise,
Why should we veil them from her lover's eyes?
Let Cupid rather give up his command,
And trust his arrows in a female hand.
Have not the gods already cherish'd pride,
And woman with destructive arms supply'd?
Neptune on her bestows his choicest stores,
For her the chambers of the deep explores:
The gaping shell its pearly charge resigns,
And round her neck the lucid bracelet twines:
Plutus for her bids earth its wealth unfold,
Where the warm oar is ripen'd into gold:
Or where the ruby reddens in the soil,
Where the green emerald pays the searcher's toil.
Does not the diamond sparkle in her ear,
Glow on her hand, and tremble in her hair?
From the gay nymph the glancing lustre flies,
And imitates the lightning of her eyes.
But yet it Venus' wishes must succeed,
And this fantastic engine be decreed,
May some chaste story from the pencil flow,
To speak the virgin's joy, and Hymen's wo.
Here let the wretched Ariadne stand,
Seduc'd by Theseus to some desert land.
Her locks dishevell'd waving in the wind,
The crystal tears confess her tortur'd mind;
The perjur'd youth unfurls his treacherous sails,
And their white bosoms catch the swelling gales.
Be still, ye winds, she cries, stay, Theseus, stay:
But faithless Theseus hears no more than they.
All desperate, to some craggy cliff she flies,
And spreads a well-known signal in the skies;
His less'ning vessel ploughs the foamy main,
She sighs, she calls, she waves the sign in vain.
Paint Dido there amidst her last distress,
Pale cheeks and blood-shot eyes her grief express;
Deep in her breast the reeking sword is drown'd,
And gushing blood streams purple from the wound;
Her sister Anna hovering o'er her stands,
Accuses heaven with lifted eyes and hands,
Upbraids the Trojan with repeated cries,
And mixes curses with her broken sighs.
View this, ye maids; and then each swain believe;
They're Trojans all, and vow but to deceive.
Here draw Oenone in the lonely grove,
Where Paris first betrayed her into love;
Let wither'd garlands hand on every bough,
Which the false youth wove for Oenone's brow,
The garlands lose their sweets, their pride is shed,
And like their odours all his vows are fled;
On her fair arm her pensive head she lays,
And Xanthus' waves with mournful look surveys;
That flood which witness'd his inconstant flame,
When thus he swore, and won the yielding dame:
'These streams shall sooner to their fountain move,
Than I forget my dear Oenone's love.'
Roll back, ye streams, back to your fountain run,
Paris is false, Oenone is undone.
Ah wretched maid! think how the moments flew,
Ere you the pangs of this curs'd passion knew,
When groves could please, and when you lov'd the plain,
Without the presence of your perjur'd swain.
Thus may the nymph, whene'er she spreads the fan,
In his true colours view perfidious man,
Pleas'd with her virgin state in forests rove,
And never trust the dangerous hopes of love.
The goddess ended. Merry Momus rose,
With smiles and grins he waggish glances throws,
Then with a noisy laugh forestalls his joke,
Mirth flashes from his eyes while thus he spoke.
Rather let heavenly deeds be painted there,
And by your own examples teach the fair.
Let chaste Diana on the piece be seen,
And the bright crescent own the Cythian queen:
On Latmos' top see young Endymion lies,
Feign'd sleep hath clos'd the bloomy lover's eyes,
See, to his soft embraces how she steals,
And on his lips her warm caresses seals:
No more her hand the glittering javelin holds,
But round his neck her eager arms she folds.
Why are our secrets by our blushes shown?
Virgins are virgins still - while 'tis unknown.
Here let her on some flowery bank be laid,
Where meeting beeches weave a grateful shade,
Her naked bosom wanton tresses grace,
And glowing expectation paints her face.
O'er her fair limbs a thin loose veil is spread,
Stand off, ye shepherds; fear Actaeon's head:
Let vigorous Pan the unguarded minute seize,
And in a shaggy goat the virgin please.
Why are our secrets by our blushes shown?
Virgins are virgins still - while 'tis unknown.
There with just warmth Aurora's passion trace,
Let spreading crimson stain her virgin face:
See Cephalus her wanton airs despise,
While she provokes him with desiring eyes:
To raise his passion she displays her charms,
His modest hand upon her bosom warms:
Nor looks, nor prayers, nor force his heart persuade,
But with disdain he quits the rosy maid.
Here let dissolving Leda grace the toy,
Warm her cheeks and heaving breasts reveal her joy;
Beneath the pressing swan she pants for air,
While with his fluttering wings he fans the fair.
There let all-conquering gold exert its power,
And soften Danae in a glittering shower.
Would you warn beauty not to cherish pride,
Nor vainly in the treacherous bloom confide,
On the machine the sage Minerva place,
With lineaments of wisdom mark her face;
See, where she lies near some transparent flood,
And with her pipe cheers the resounding wood:
Her image in the floating glass she spies,
Her bloated cheeks, worn lips, and shrivell'd eyes;
She breaks the guiltless pipe, and with disdain
Its shatter'd ruins flings upon the plain.
With the loud reed no more her cheek shall swell,
What, spoil her face! no: warbling strains, farewell.
Shall arts, shall sciences employ the fair?
Those trifles are beneath Minerva's care.
From Venus let her learn the married life,
And all the virtuous duties of a wife.
Here on a couch extend the Cyprian dame,
Let her eye sparkle with the growing flame
The god of war within her clinging arms,
Sinks on her lips, and kindles all her charms.
Paint limping Vulcan with a husband's care,
And let his brow the cuckold's honours wear;
Beneath the net the captive lovers place,
Their limbs entangled in a close embrace.
Let these amours adorn the new machine,
And female nature on the piece be seen;
So shall the fair, as long as fans shall last,
Learn from your bright examples to be chaste.
John Gay's Other Poems
- A Ballad
- Acis and Galatea
- An Elegy on a Lap-dog
- Fable L: The Hare and Many Friends
- Fable XLII. The Juggler
- HE THAT TASTES WOMAN
- IF LAWYER'S HAND IS FEE'D
- If the Heart of a Man
- Ode to Adversity
- Rural Sports: A Georgic - Canto I.
- Rural Sports: A Georgic - Canto II.
- Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air IV-Co...
- Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air X-“Th...
- Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air XVI-“...
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