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TO THE EXCELLENT ORINDA, by                    
First Line: Let the male poets their male phoebus chuse
Last Line: Wit is still higher by humility.
Subject(s): "humility; Philips, Katherine (""orinda"") (1631-64); Poetry & Poets; Soul; Women;

Let the male Poets their male Phoebus chuse,
Thee I invoke, Orinda, for my Muse;
He could but force a Branch, Daphne her Tree
Most freely offers to her Sex and thee,
And says to Verse, so unconstrain'd as yours,
Her Laurel freely comes, your fame secures:
And men no longer shall with ravish'd Bays
Crown their forc'd Poems by as forc'd a praise.
Thou glory of our Sex, envy of men,
Who are both pleas'd and vex'd with thy bright Pen:
Its lustre doth intice their eyes to gaze,
But mens sore eyes cannot endure its rays;
It dazles and surprises so with light,
To find a noon where they expected night:
A Woman Translate Pompey! which the fam'd
Corneille with such art and labour fram'd!
To whose close version the Wits club their sence,
And a new Lay poetick SMEC springs thence!
Yes, that bold work a Woman dares Translate,
Not to provoke, nor yet to fear mens hate.
Nature doth find that she hath err'd too long,
And now resolves to recompence that wrong:
Phoebus to Cynthia must his beams resigne,
The rule of Day, and Wit's now Feminine.
That Sex, which heretofore was not allow'd
To understand more than a beast, or crowd;
Of which Problems were made, whether or no
Women had Souls; but to be damn'd, if so;
Whose highest Contemplation could not pass,
In men's esteem, no higher than the Glass;
And all the painful labours of their Brain,
Was only how to Dress and Entertain:
Or, if they ventur'd to speak sense, the wise
Made that, and speaking Oxe, like Prodigies.
From these thy more than masculine Pen hath rear'd
Our Sex; first to be prais'd, next to be feard.
And by the same Pen forc'd, men now confess,
To keep their greatness, was to make us less.
Men know of how refin'd and rich a mould
Our Sex is fram'd, what Sun is in our Gold:
They know in Lead no Diamonds are set,
And Jewels only fill the Cabinet.
Our Spirits purer far than theirs, they see;
By which even Men from Men distinguish'd be:
By which the Soul is judg'd, and does appear
Fit or unfit for action, as they are.
When in an Organ various sounds do stroak,
Or grate the ear, as Birds sing, or Toads Croak;
The Breath, that voyces every Pipe, 's the same,
But the bad mettal doth the sound defame.
So, if our Souls by sweeter Organs speak,
And theirs with harsh, false notes the air do break;
The Soul's the same, alike in both doth dwell,
'Tis from her instruments that we excel.
Ask me not then, why jealous men debar
Our Sex from Books in Peace, from Arms in War;
It is because our Parts will soon demand
Tribunals for our Persons, and Command.
Shall it be our reproach, that we are weak,
And cannot fight, nor as the School-men speak?
Even men themselves are neither strong nor wise,
If Limbs and Parts they do not exercise,
Train'd up to arms, we Amazons have been,
And Spartan Virgins strong as Spartan Men:
Breed Women but as Men, and they are these;
Whilst Sybarit Men are Women by their ease.
Why should not brave Semiramis break a Lance,
And why should not soft Ninyas curle and dance?
Ovid in vain Bodies with change did vex,
Changing her form of life, Iphis chang'd Sex.
Nature to Females freely doth impart
That, which the Males usurp, a stout, bold heart.
Thus Hunters female Beasts fear to assail:
And female Hawks more mettal'd than the male:
Men ought not then Courage and Wit ingross,
Whilst the Fox lives, the Lyon, or the Horse.
Much less ought men both to themselves confine,
Whilst Women, such as you, Orinda, shine.
That noble friendship brought thee to our Coast,
We thank Lucasia, and thy courage boast.
Death in each Wave could not Orinda fright,
Fearless she acts that friendship she did write:
Which manly Vertue to their Sex confin'd,
Thou rescuest to confirm our softer mind;
For there's requir'd (to do that Virtue right)
Courage, as much in Friendship as in Fight.
The dangers we despise, doth this truth prove,
Though boldly we not fight, we boldly love.
Ingage us unto Books, Sappho comes forth,
Though not of Hesiod's age, of Hesiod's worth.
If Souls no Sexes have, as 'tis confest,
'Tis not the he or she makes Poems best:
Nor can men call these Verses Feminine,
Be the sense vigorous and Masculine.
'Tis true, Apollo sits as Judge of Wit,
But the nine Female learned Troop are it:
Those Laws for which Numa did wise appear,
Wiser AEgeria whisper'd in his ear.
The Gracchi's Mother taught them Eloquence,
From her Breasts courage flow'd, from her Brain sence;
And the grave Beards, who heard her speak in Rome,
Blush'd not to be instructed, but o'recome.
Your speech, as hers, commands respect from all,
Your very Looks, as hers, Rhetorical:
Something of grandeur in your Verse men see,
That they rise up to it as Majesty.
The wise and noble Orrery's regard,
Was much observ'd, when he your Poem heard:
All said, a fitter match was never seen,
Had Pompey's widow been Arsamnes Queen.
Pompey, who greater than himself 's become,
Now in your Poem, than before in Rome;
And much more lasting in the Poets Pen,
Great Princes live, than the proud Towers of Men.
He thanks false Egypt for its Treachery,
Since that his Ruine is so sung by thee;
And so again would perish, if withall,
Orinda would but celebrate his Fall.
Thus pleasingly the Bee delights to die,
Foreseeing, he in Amber Tomb shall lie.
If that all AEgypt, for to purge its crime,
Were built into one Pyramid o're him,
Pompey would lie less stately in that Herse,
Than he doth now, Orinda, in thy Verse:
This makes Cornelia for her Pompey vow,
Her hand shall plant his Laurel on thy brow:
So equal in their merits were both found,
That the same Wreath Poets and Princes Crown'd:
And what on that great Captains Brow was dead,
She Joies to see re-flourish'd on thy head.
In the French Rock Cornelia first did shine,
But shin'd not like herself till she was thine:
Poems, like Gems, translated from the place
Where they first grew, receive another grace.
Drest by thy hand, and polish'd by thy Pen,
She glitters now a Star, but a Jewel then:
No flaw remains, no cloud, all now is light,
Transparent as the day, bright parts more bright.
Corneille, now made English, so doth thrive,
As Trees transplanted do much lustier live.
Thus Oar digg'd forth, and by such hands as thine
Refin'd and stamp'd, is richer than the Mine.
Liquors from Vessel into Vessel pour'd,
Must lose some Spirits, which are scarce restor'd:
But the French wines, in their own Vessel rare,
Pour'd into ours, by thy hand, Spirits are;
So high in taste, and so delicious,
Before his own Corneille thine would chuse.
He finds himself inlightned here, where shade
Of dark expression his own words had made:
There what he would have said, he sees so writ,
As generously to just decorum fit.
When in more words than his you please to flow,
Like a spread Floud, inriching all below,
To the advantage of his well meant sence,
He gains by you another excellence.
To render word for word, at the old rate,
Is only but to Construe, not Translate:
In your own fancy free, to his sense true,
We read Corneille, and Orinda too:
And yet ye both are so the very same,
As when two Tapers join'd make one bright flame.
And sure the Copier's honour is not small,
When Artists doubt which is Original.
But if your fetter'd Muse thus praised be,
What great things do you write when it is free?
When it is free to choose both sence and words,
Or any subject the vast World affords?
A gliding Sea of Chrystal doth best show
How smooth, clear, full and rich your Verse doth flow:
Your words are chosen, cull'd, not by chance writ,
To make the sence as Anagrams do hit.
Your rich becoming words on the sence wait,
As Maids of Honour on a Queen of State.
'Tis not White Satin makes a Verse more white,
Or soft; Iron is both, write you on it.
Your Poems come forth cast, no File you need,
At one brave Heat both shap'd and polished.
But why all these Encomiums of you,
Who either doubts, or will not take as due?
Renown how little you regard, or need,
Who like the Bee, on your own sweets doth feed?
There are, who like weak Fowl with shouts fall down,
Doz'd with an Army's Acclamation:
Not able to indure applause, they fall,
Giddy with praise, their praises Funeral.
But you, Orinda, are so unconcern'd,
As if when you, another we commend.
Thus, as the Sun, you in your Course shine on,
Unmov'd with all our admiration:
Flying above the praise you shun, we see
Wit is still higher by humility.

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