Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extract from Cadenus and Vanessa
By Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)
 
  IN a glad hour Lucina’s aid
Produced on earth a wondrous maid,
On whom the Queen of Love was bent
To try a new experiment.
She threw her law-books on the shelf,        5
And thus debated with herself.
  Since men allege, they ne’er can find
Those beauties in a female mind
Which raise a flame that will endure
For ever uncorrupt and pure;        10
If ’tis with reason they complain,
This infant shall restore my reign.
I ’ll search where every virtue dwells,
From courts inclusive down to cells:
What preachers talk, or sages write;        15
These will I gather and unite,
And represent them to mankind
Collected in that infant’s mind.
  This said, she plucks in Heaven’s high bowers
A sprig of amaranthine flowers.        20
In nectar thrice infuses bays,
Three times refined in Titan’s rays;
Then calls the Graces to her aid,
And sprinkles thrice the newborn maid:
From whence the tender skin assumes        25
A sweetness above all perfumes:
From whence a cleanliness remains,
Incapable of outward stains:
From whence that decency of mind,
So lovely in the female kind,        30
Where not one careless thought intrudes
Less modest than the speech of prudes;
Where never blush was call’d in aid,
That spurious virtue in a maid,
A virtue but at second-hand;        35
They blush because they understand.
  The Graces next would act their part,
And show’d but little of their art;
Their work was half already done,
The child with native beauty shone;        40
The outward form no help required:
Each, breathing on her thrice, inspired
That gentle, soft, engaging air,
Which in old times adorn’d the fair:
And said, ‘Vanessa be the name        45
By which thou shalt be known to fame:
Vanessa, by the gods enroll’d:
Her name on earth shall not be told.’
 
 
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