Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
To the State of Love; Or the Senses’ Festival
By John Cleveland (1613–1658)
 
I SAW a vision yesternight
Enough to sate a Seeker’s 1 sight;
I wished myself a Shaker 2 there,
And her quick pants my trembling sphere.
It was a she so glittering bright,        5
You’d think her soul an Adamite; 3
A person of so rare a frame,
Her body might be lined with the same.
Beauty’s chiefest maid of honour,
You may break Lent with looking on her.        10
  Not the fair Abbess of the skies 4
  With all her nunnery of eyes
  Can show me such a glorious prize!
 
And yet because ’tis more renown
To make a shadow shine, she’s brown,—        15
A brown for which Heaven would disband
The galaxy and stars be tanned;
Brown by reflection as her eye
Dazzle’s the summer’s livery.
Old dormant windows must confess        20
Her beams their glimmering spectacles;
Struck with the splendour of her face
Do the office of a burning glass.
  Now where such radiant lights have shown
  No wonder if her cheeks be grown        25
  Sunburned, with lustre of her own.
 
My sight took pay but (thank my charms!)
I now impale her in mine arms,—
(Love’s compasses confining you,
Good angels, to a circle too.)        30
Is not the universe straight-laced
When I can clasp it in the waist?
My amorous folds about thee hurled
With Drake I girdle in the world;
I hoop the firmament, and make        35
This, my embrace, the zodiac.
  How could thy center take my sense
  When admiration doth commence
  At the extreme circumference?
 
Now to the melting kiss that sips        40
The jellied philtre of her lips;
So sweet there is no tongue can praise’t
Till transubstantiate with a taste.
Inspired like Mahomet from above
By the billing of my heavenly dove        45
Love prints his signets in her smacks,
Those ruddy drops of squeezing wax,
Which, wheresoever she imparts,
They’ve privy seals to take up hearts.
  Our mouths encountering at the sport        50
  My slippery soul had quit the fort
  But that she stopped the sally-port.
 
Next to these sweets, her lips dispence
(As twin conserves of eloquence,)
The sweet perfume of her breath affords,        55
Incorporating with her words.
No rosary this votress needs,—
Her very syllables are beads;
No sooner ’twixt those rubies born,
But jewels are in ear-rings worn.        60
With that delight her speech doth enter;
It is a kiss of the second venter. 5
  And I dissolve at what I hear
  As if another Rosamond were
  Couched in the labyrinth of my ear.        65
 
Yet that’s but a preludious bliss,
Two souls pickeering in a kiss.
Embraces do but draw the line,
’Tis storming that must take her in.
When bodies join and victory hovers        70
’Twixt the equal fluttering lovers,
This is the game; make stakes, my dear!
Hark, how the sprightly chanticleer,
(That Baron Tell-clock of the night,)
Sounds boutesel to Cupid’s knight.        75
  Then have at all, the pass is got,
  For coming off, oh, name it not!
  Who would not die upon the spot?
 
Note 1. A Seeker’s:The Seekers, a sect that sought for the true religion. [back]
Note 2. Shaker: “A punning conceits upon the names of the various religious sects of the time.” (Berdan). The society of Shakers such as Mr. Howells describes in his novels The Undiscovered Country, and in The Day of Their Wedding, was not established in Cleveland’s time. [back]
Note 3. Adamites: another religious sect of the day who emulated like Blake, in the story that was reported of him, the attempt to imitate Adam by doing without clothes. [back]
Note 4. Abbess of the skies: Juno. [back]
Note 5. Second venter: “There were three venters in the anatomy, the second of which is the breast. Her speech is, then, a kiss of the heart.” (Berdan). [back]
 
 
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