Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VISIONS IN VERSE: 7. MARRIAGE, by NATHANIEL COTTON



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VISIONS IN VERSE: 7. MARRIAGE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fairest, this vision is thy due
Last Line: And her awards preclude appeals.
Subject(s): Love - Marital; Marriage; Wedded Love; Marriage - Love; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


FAIREST, this vision is thy due,
I form'd the instructive plan for you.
Slight not the rules of thoughtful age,
Your welfare actuates every page;
But ponder well my sacred theme,
And tremble, while you read my dream.
Those awful words, ' 'Till death do part,'
May well alarm the youthful heart:
No after-thought when once a wife;
The die is cast, and cast for life;
Yet thousands venture every day,
As some base passion leads the way.
Pert Silvia talks of wedlock scenes,
Though hardly enter'd on her teens;
Smiles on her whining spark, and hears
The sugar'd speech with raptur'd ears;
Impatient of a parent's rule,
She leaves her sire and weds a fool.
Want enters at the guardless door;
And Love is fled, to come no more.
Some few there are of sordid mould,
Who barter youth and bloom for gold;
Careless with what, or whom they mate,
Their ruling passion's all for state.
But Hymen, generous, just, and kind,
Abhors the mercenary mind:
Such rebels groan beneath his rod,
For Hymen's a vindictive god;
'Be joyless every night,' he said,
'And barren be their nuptial bed.'
Attend, my fair, to Wisdom's voice,
A better fate shall crown thy choice.
A married life, to speak the best,
Is all a lottery confest:
Yet if my fair-one will be wise,
I will insure my girl a prize;
Though not a prize to match thy worth,
Perhaps thy equal's not on earth.
'Tis an important point to know,
There's no perfection here below.
Man's an odd compound, after all,
And ever has been since the Fall.
Say, that he loves you from his soul,
Still man is proud, nor brooks control,
And though a slave in Love's soft school,
In wedlock claims his right to rule.
The best, in short, has faults about him,
If few those faults, you must not flout him.
With some, indeed, you can't dispense,
As want of temper and of sense:
For when the sun deserts the skies,
And the dull winter evenings rise,
Then for a husband's social pow'r,
To form the calm, conversive hour;
The treasures of thy breast explore,
From that rich mine to draw the ore;
Fondly each generous thought refine,
And give thy native gold to shine;
Show thee, as really thou art,
Though fair, yet fairer still at heart.
Say, when life's purple blossoms fade,
As soon they must, thou charming maid!
When in thy cheeks the roses die,
And sickness clouds that brilliant eye;
Say, when or age or pains invade,
And those dear limbs shall call for aid;
If thou art fetter'd to a fool,
Shall not his transient passion cool?
And when thy health and beauty end,
Shall thy weak mate persist a friend?
But to a man of sense, my dear,
Ev'n then thou lovely shalt appear,
He'll share the griefs that wound thy heart,
And weeping claim the larger part;
Though age impairs that beauteous face,
He'll prize the pearl beyond its case.
In wedlock when the sexes meet,
Friendship is only then complete.
'Blest state! where souls each other draw,
Where love is liberty and law!'
The choicest blessing found below,
That man can wish, or heav'n bestow!
Trust me, these raptures are divine,
For lovely Chloe once was mine;
Nor fear the varnish of my style,
Though poet, I'm estrang'd to guile.
Ah me! my faithful lips impart
The genuine language of my heart!
When bards extol their patrons high,
Perhaps 'tis gold extorts the lie;
Perhaps the poor reward of bread——
But who burns incense to the dead?
He, whom a fond affection draws,
Careless of censure, or applause;
Whose soul is upright and sincere,
With nought to wish, and nought to fear.
Now to my visionary scheme
Attend, and profit by my dream.
Amidst the slumbers of the night,
A stately temple 'rose to sight;
And ancient as the human race,
If Nature's purposes you trace.
This fane, by all the wise rever'd,
To Wedlock's powerful god was rear'd.
Hard by I saw a graceful sage,
His locks were frosted o'er by age;
His garb was plain, his mind serene,
And wisdom dignified his mien.
With curious search his name I sought,
And found 'twas Hymen's favourite—Thought.
Apace the giddy crowds advance,
And a lewd satyr led the dance:
I griev'd to see whole thousands run,
For oh! what thousands were undone!
The sage, when these mad troops he spied,
In pity flew to join their side:
The disconcerted pairs began
To rail against him, to a man;
Vow'd they were strangers to his name,
Nor knew from whence the dotard came.
But mark the sequel—for this truth
Highly concerns impetuous youth:
Long ere the honeymoon could wane,
Perdition seiz'd on every twain;
At every house, and all day long,
Repentance plied her scorpion thong
Disgust was there with frowning mien,
And every wayward child of Spleen.
Hymen approach'd his awful fane,
Attended by a numerous train:
Love, with each soft and nameless grace,
Was first in favour and in place:
Then came the god with solemn gait,
Whose every word was big with fate;
His hand a flaming taper bore,
That sacred symbol, fam'd of yore:
Virtue, adorn'd with every charm,
Sustain'd the god's incumbent arm;
Beauty improv'd the glowing scene
With all the roses of eighteen:
Youth led the gaily-smiling fair,
His purple pinions wav'd in air:
Wealth, a close hunks, walk'd hobbling nigh,
With vulture-claw and eagle-eye,
Who threescore years had seen, or more,
('Tis said his coat had seen a score;)
Proud was the wretch, though clad in rags,
Presuming much upon his bags.
A female next her arts display'd,
Poets alone can paint the maid;
Trust me, Hogarth, (though great thy fame)
'Twould pose thy skill to draw the same;
And yet thy mimic pow'r is more
Than ever painter's was before:
Now she was fair as cygnet's down,
Now as Mat Prior's Emma, brown;
And, changing as the changing flow'r,
Her dress she varied every hour:
'Twas Fancy, child!—You know the fair,
Who pins your gown, and sets your hair.
Lo! the god mounts his throne of state,
And sits the arbiter of fate:
His head with radiant glories drest,
Gently reclin'd on Virtue's breast:
Love took his station on the right,
His quiver beam'd with golden light.
Beauty usurp'd the second place,
Ambitious of distinguish'd grace;
She claim'd this ceremonial joy,
Because related to the boy;
(Said it was her's to point his dart,
And speed its passage to the heart;)
While on the god's inferior hand
Fancy and Wealth obtain'd their stand.
And now the hallow'd rites proceed,
And now a thousand heart-strings bleed.
I saw a blooming trembling bride,
A toothless lover join'd her side;
Averse she turn'd her weeping face,
And shudder'd at the cold embrace.
But various baits their force impart:
Thus titles lie at Celia's heart:
A passion much too foul to name,
Costs supercilious prudes their fame:
Prudes wed to publicans and sinners;
The hungry poet weds for dinners.
The god with frown indignant view'd
The rabble covetous or lewd;
By every vice his altars stain'd,
By every fool his rites profan'd:
When Love complain'd of Wealth aloud,
Affirming Wealth debauch'd the crowd;
Drew up in form his heavy charge,
Desiring to be heard at large.
The god consents, the throng divide,
The young espous'd the plaintiff's side:
The old declar'd for the defendant,
For Age is Money's sworn attendant.
Love said that wedlock was design'd
By gracious Heav'n to match the mind;
To pair the tender and the just,
And his the delegated trust:
That Wealth had play'd a knavish part,
And taught the tongue to wrong the heart;
But what avails the faithless voice?
The injur'd heart disdains the choice.—
Wealth straight replied, that Love was blind,
And talk'd at random of the mind:
That killing eyes, and bleeding hearts,
And all the' artillery of darts,
Were long ago exploded fancies,
And laugh'd at even in romances.
Poets indeed style Love a treat,
Perhaps for want of better meat:
And Love might be delicious fare,
Could we, like poets, live on air.
But grant that angels feast on Love,
(Those purer essences above)
Yet Albion's sons, he understood,
Preferr'd a more substantial food.
Thus while with gibes he dress'd his cause,
His grey admirers hemm'd applause.
With seeming conquest pert and proud,
Wealth shook his sides, and chuckled loud;
When Fortune, to restrain his pride,
And fond to favour Love beside,
Opening the miser's tape-tied vest,
Disclos'd the cares which stung his breast:
Wealth stood abash'd at his disgrace,
And a deep crimson flush'd his face.
Love sweetly simper'd at the sight;
His gay adherents laugh'd outright.
The god, though grave his temper, smil'd,
For Hymen dearly priz'd the child:
But he who triumphs o'er his brother,
In turn is laugh'd at by another.
Such cruel scores we often find
Repaid the criminal in kind:—
For Poverty, that famish'd fiend!
Ambitious of a wealthy friend,
Advanc'd into the Miser's place,
And star'd the stripling in the face;
Whose lips grew pale, and cold as clay;
I thought the chit would swoon away.
The god was studious to employ
His cares to aid the vanquish'd boy;
And therefore issued his decree,
That the two parties straight agree.
When both obey'd the god's commands,
And Love and Riches join'd their hands.
What wondrous change in each was wrought,
Believe me, fair! surpasses thought.
If Love had many charms before,
He now had charms, ten thousand more.
If Wealth had serpents in his breast,
They now are dead, or lull'd to rest.
Beauty, that vain affected thing,
Who join'd the hymeneal ring,
Approach'd with round unthinking face,
And thus the trifler states her case.
She said, that Love's complaints, 'twas known,
Exactly tallied with her own;
That Wealth had learn'd the felon's arts,
And robb'd her of a thousand hearts;
Desiring judgment against Wealth,
For falsehood, perjury, and stealth:
All which she could on oath depose,
And hop'd the court would slit his nose.
But Hymen, when he heard her name,
Call'd her an interloping dame;
Look'd through the crowd with angry state,
And blam'd the porter at the gate
For giving entrance to the fair,
When she was no essential there.
To sink this haughty tyrant's pride,
He order'd Fancy to preside.
Hence, when debates on beauty rise,
And each bright fair disputes the prize,
To Fancy's court we straight apply,
And wait the sentence of her eye;
In Beauty's realms she holds the seals,
And her awards preclude appeals.





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