Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PARADOX: THAT FRUITION DESTROYS LOVE, by HENRY KING (1592-1669)



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PARADOX: THAT FRUITION DESTROYS LOVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Love is our reason's paradox, which still
Last Line: As warm our hands by putting out the fire.
Subject(s): Love - Nature Of; Pygmalion; Troy


LOVE is our Reason's Paradox, which still
Against the judgment doth maintain the will:
And governs by such arbitrary laws,
It only makes the act our liking's cause:
We have no brave revenge, but to forgo
Our full desires, and starve the tyrant so.

They whom the rising blood tempts not to taste,
Preserve a stock of love can never waste;
When easy people who their wish enjoy,
Like prodigals at once their wealth destroy.
Adam till now had stay'd in Paradise
Had his desires been bounded by his eyes.
When he did more than look, that made th' offence,
And forfeited his state of innocence.
Fruition therefore is the bane t' undo
Both our affection and the subject too.
'Tis Love into worse language to translate,
And make it into Lust degenerate:
'Tis to dethrone, and thrust it from the heart,
To seat it grossly in the sensual part.
Seek for the star that's shot upon the ground,
And nought but a dim jelly there is found.
Thus foul and dark our female stars appear,
If fall'n or loss'ned once from Virtue's Sphere.
Glow-worms shine only look'd on, and let lie,
But handled crawl into deformity:
So beauty is no longer fair and bright,
Than whilst unstained by the appetite:
And then it withers like a blasted flower,
Some pois'nous worm or spider hath crept o'er.
Pygmalion's dotage on the carved stone,
Shows amorists their strong illusion.
Whilst he to gaze and court it was content,
He serv'd as priest at Beauty's monument:
But when by looser fires t' embraces led,
It prov'd a cold hard statue in his bed.
Irregular affects, like madmen's dreams
Presented by false lights and broken beams,
So long content us, as no near address
Shows the weak sense our painted happiness.
But when those pleasing shadows us forsake,
Or of the substance we a trial make,
Like him, deluded by the fancy's mock,
We shipwrack 'gainst an alabaster rock.
What though thy mistress far from marble be?
Her softness will transform and harden thee.
Lust is a snake, and Guilt the Gorgon's head,
Which Conscience turns to stone, and Joys to lead.

Turtles themselves will blush, if put to name
The act, whereby they quench their am'rous flame.
Who then that's wise or virtuous, would not fear
To catch at pleasures which forbidden were,
When those which we count lawful, cannot be
Requir'd without some loss of modesty?
Ev'n in the marriage-bed, where soft delights
Are customary and authoriz'd rites;
What are those tributes to the wanton sense,
But toleration of Incontinence?
For properly you cannot call that Love
Which does not from the soul, but humour move.
Thus they who worship'd Pan or Isis' Shrine,
By the fair front judg'd all within divine:
Though ent'ring, found 'twas but a goat or cow
To which before their ignorance did bow.
Such temples and such goddesses are these
Which foolish lovers and admirers please:
Who if they chance within the shrine to pry,
Find that a beast they thought a Deity.
Nor makes it only our opinion less
Of what we lik'd before, and now possess;
But robs the fuel, and corrupts the spice
Which sweetens and inflames Love's sacrifice,
After fruition once, what is Desire
But ashes kept warm by a dying fire?
This is (if any) the Philosopher's Stone
Which still miscarries at projection.
For when the Heat ad Octo intermits,
It poorly takes us like Third Ague fits,
Or must on embers as dull drugs infuse,
Which we for med'cine not for pleasure use.
Since lovers' joys then leave so sick a taste,
And soon as relish'd by the sense are past;
They are but riddles sure, lost if possest,
And therefore only in reversion best.
For bate them expectation and delay,
You take the most delightful scenes away.
These two such rule within the fancy keep,
As banquets apprehended in our sleep;
After which pleasing trance next morn we wake
Empty and angry at the night's mistake.
Give me long dreams and visions of content,
Rather than pleasures in a minute spent.
And since I know before, the shedding rose
In that same instant doth her sweetness lose,
Upon the virgin-stock still let her dwell
For me, to feast my longings with her smell.
Those are but counterfeits of joy at best,
Which languish soon as brought unto the test.
Nor can I hold it worth his pains who tries
To in that harvest which by reaping dies.

Resolve me now what spirit hath delight,
If by full feed you kill the appetite?
That stomach healthi'st is, that ne'er was cloy'd,
Why not that Love the best then, ne'er enjoy'd?
Since nat'rally the blood, when tam'd or sated,
Will cool so fast it leaves the object hated.
Pleasures, like wonders, quickly lose their price
When Reason or Experience makes us wise.

To close my argument then. I dare say
(And without Paradox) as well we may
Enjoy our Love and yet preserve Desire,
As warm our hands by putting out the fire.





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