Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A FAIR NYMPH SCORNING A BLACK BOY COURTING HER, by JOHN CLEVELAND



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A FAIR NYMPH SCORNING A BLACK BOY COURTING HER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Stand off, and let me take the air
Last Line: Than wash thy ethiopian skin.
Subject(s): Blacks; Courtship; Racism; Racial Prejudice; Bigotry


Nymph. Stand off, and let me take the air;
Why should the smoke pursue the fair?
Boy. My face is smoke, thence may be guessed
What flames within have scorched my breast.
Nymph. The flame of love I cannot view
For the dark lantern of thy hue.
Boy. And yet this lantern keeps Love's taper
Surer than yours, that's of white paper.
Whatever midnight hath been here,
The moonshine of your light can clear.
Nymph. My moon of an eclipse is 'fraid,
If thou shouldst interpose thy shade.
Boy. Yet one thing, Sweetheart, I will ask;
Take me for a new-fashioned mask.
Nymph. Yes, but my bargain shall be this,
I'll throw my mask off when I kiss.
Boy. Our curled embraces shall delight
To checker limbs with black and white.
Nymph. Thy ink, my paper, make me guess
Our nuptial bed will prove a press,
And in our sports, if any came,
They'll read a wanton epigram.
Boy. Why should my black thy love impair?
Let the dark shop commend the ware;
Or, if thy love from black forbears,
I'll strive to wash it off with tears.
Nymph. Spare fruitless tears, since thou must needs
Still wear about thee mourning weeds.
Tears can no more affection win
Than wash thy Ethiopian skin.





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