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William Taylor Collins

(1721 - 1759 (Restoration&18th Century 1660-1785) / England)

Eclogue the First Selim


SCENE, a Valley near Bagdat TIME, the Morning

`Ye Persian maids, attend your poet's lays,
And hear how shepherds pass their golden days:
Not all are blest, whom fortune's hand sustains
With wealth in courts, nor all that haunt the plains:
Well may your hearts believe the truths I tell;
'Tis virtue makes the bliss, where'er we dwell.'
Thus Selim sung, by sacred Truth inspired;
No praise the youth, but hers alone, desired.
Wise in himself, his meaning songs conveyed
Informing morals to the shepherd maid,

Or taught the swains that surest bliss to find,
What groves nor streams bestow, a virtuous mind.
When sweet and odorous, like an eastern bride,
The radiant morn resumed her orient pride,
When wanton gales along the valleys play,
Breathe on each flower, and bear their sweets away:
By Tigris' wandering waves he sat, and sung
This useful lesson for the fair and young.

`Ye Persian dames,' he said, `to you belong,
Well may they please, the morals of my song;

No fairer maids, I trust, than you are found,
Graced with soft arts, the peopled world around!
The morn that lights you to your loves supplies
Each gentler ray delicious to your eyes:
For you those flowers her fragrant hands bestow,
And yours the love that kings delight to know.
Yet think not these, all beauteous as they are,
The best kind blessings heaven can grant the fair!
Who trust alone in beauty's feeble ray,
Balsora's pearls have more of worth than they;
Drawn from the deep, they sparkle to the sight,
And all-unconscious shoot a lustrous light:
Such are the maids and such the charms they boast,
By sense unaided or to virtue lost.
Self-flattering sex! your hearts believe in vain
That love shall blind when once he fires the swain,
Or hope a lover by your faults to win,
As spots on ermine beautify the skin.
Who seeks secure to rule, be first her care
Each softer virtue that adorns the fair,
Each tender passion man delights to find,
The loved perfections of a female mind.
`Blest were the days when Wisdom held her reign,
And shepherds sought her on the silent plain;
With Truth she wedded in the secret grove,
The fair-eyed Truth, and daughters blessed their love.

`O haste, fair maids, ye Virtues, come away,
Sweet Peace and Plenty lead you on your way!
The balmy shrub for you shall love our shore,
By Ind excelled or Araby no more.

`Lost to our fields, for so the fates ordain,
The dear deserters shall return again.
O come thou, Modesty, as they decree,
The rose may then improve her blush by thee.
Here make thy court amidst our rural scene,
And shepherd-girls shall own thee for their queen.
With thee be Chastity, of all afraid,
Distrusting all, a wise suspicious maid,
But man the most -- not more the mountain doe
Holds the swift falcon for her deadly foe.
Cold is her breast, like flowers that drink the dew;
A silken veil conceals her from the view.
No wild desires amidst thy train be known,
But Faith, whose heart is fixed on one alone;
Desponding Meekness with her down-cast eyes,
And friendly Pity full of tender sighs;
And Love the last: by these your hearts approve,
These are the Virtues that must lead to love.'
Thus sung the swain, and eastern legends say
The maids of Bagdat verified the lay:

Dear to the plains, the Virtues came along,
The shepherds loved, and Selim blessed his song.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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