Colemira. A Culinary Eclogue
Nec tantum Veneris, quantum studiosa culinae.
Insensible of soft desire,
Behold Colemira prove
More partial to the kitchen fire
Than to the fire of Love.
Night's sable clouds had half the globe o'erspread,
And silence reign'd, and folks were gone to bed;
When love, which gentle sleep can ne'er inspire,
Had seated Damon by the kitchen fire.
Pensive he lay, extended on the ground,
The little Lares kept their vigils round
The fawning cats compassionate his case,
And purr around, and gently lick his face:
To all his plaints the sleeping curs reply,
And with hoarse snorings imitate a sigh:
Such gloomy scenes with lovers' minds agree,
And solitude to them is best society.
'Could I,' he cried, 'express how bright a grace
Adorns thy morning hands, and well-wash'd face,
Thou wouldst, Colemira, grant what I implore,
And yield me love, or wash thy face no more.
'Ah! who can see, and seeing not admire,
Whene'er she sets the pot upon the fire?
Her hands outshine the fire and redder things;
Her eyes are blacker than the pot she brings.
'But sure no chamber-damsel can compare,
When in meridian lustre shines my fair,
When warm'd with dinner's toil, in pearly rills,
Adown her goodly cheeks the sweat distils.
'Oh! how I long, how ardently desire,
To view those rosy fingers strike the lyre!
For late, when bees to change their climes began,
How did I see them thrum the frying-pan!
'With her I should not envy George his queen,
Though she in royal grandeur deck'd be seen;
Whilst rags, just sever'd from my fair one's gown,
In russet pomp and greasy pride hang down.
'Ah! how it does my drooping heart rejoice,
When in the hall I hear thy mellow voice!
How would that voice exceed the village bell,
Wouldst thou but sing, 'I like thee passing well!'
'When from the hearth she bade the pointers go,
How soft, how easy, did her accents flow!
'Get out,' she cried: 'when strangers come to sup,
One ne'er can raise those snoring devils up.'
'Then, full of wrath, she kick'd each lazy brute;
Alas! I envied even that salute:
'Twas sure misplaced-Shock said, or seem'd to say,
He had as lief I had the kick, as they.
'If she the mystic bellows take in hand,
Who like the fair can that machine command?
O mayst thou ne'er by Ã†olus be seen,
For he would sure demand thee for his queen!
'But should the flame this rougher aid refuse,
And only gentler medicines be of use,
With full-blown cheeks she ends the doubtful strife,
Foments the infant flame, and puffs it into life.
'Such arts as these exalt the drooping fire,
But in my breast a fiercer flame inspire:
I burn! I burn! O give thy puffing o'er,
And swell thy cheeks, and pout thy lips, no more!
With all her haughty looks, the time I've seen
When this proud damsel has more humble been,
When with nice airs she hoist the pancake round,
And dropt it, hapless fair! upon the ground.
'Look, with what charming grace, what winning tricks,
The artful charmer rubs the candlesticks:
So bright she makes the candlesticks she handles,
Oft have I said-there were no need of candles.
But thou, my fair! who never wouldst approve,
Or hear the tender story of my love,
Or mind how burns my raging breast-a button-
Perhaps art dreaming of-a breast of mutton.'
Thus said, and wept, the sad desponding swain,
Revealing to the sable walls his pain:
But nymphs are free with those they should deny;
To those they love, more exquisitely coy.
Now chirping crickets raise their tinkling voice,
The lambent flames in languid streams arise,
And smoke, in azure folds, evaporates and dies.
William Shenstone's Other Poems
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