Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
Fuscara, or the Bee Errant
By John Cleveland (1613–1658)
NATURE’S confectioner, the bee,
(Whose suckets are moist alchemy,
The still of his refining mold
Minting the garden into gold,)
Having rifled all the fields        5
Of what dainty Flora yields,
Ambitious now to take exercise
Of a more fragrant paradise,
At my Fuscara’s sleeve arrived
Where all delicious sweets are hived.        10
The airy freebooter distrains
First on the violet of her veins,
Whose tincture, could it be more pure,
His ravenous kiss has made it bluer.
Here did he sit and essence quaff        15
Till her coy pulse had beat him off;
That pulse which he that feels may know
Whether the world’s long lived or no.
The next he preys on is her palm,
That almoner of transpiring balm;        20
So soft, ’tis air but once removed;
Tender as ’twere a jelly gloved.
Here, while his canting drone-pipe scanned
The mystic figures of her hand,
He tipples palmistry and dines        25
On all her fortune-telling lines.
He bathes in bliss and finds no odds
Betwixt her nectar and the gods.
He perches now upon her wrist,
A proper hawk for such a fist,        30
Making that flesh his bill of fare
Which hungry cannibals would spare;
Where lilies in a lovely brown
Inoculate carnation.
Her argent skin with or so streamed        35
As if the milky way were creamed.
From hence he to the woodbine bends
That quivers at her finger’s ends,
That runs division on the tree
Like a thick-branching pedigree.        40
So ’tis not her the bee devours,
It is a pretty maze of flowers;
It is the rose that bleeds, when he
Nibbles his nice phlebotomy.
About her finger he doth cling        45
In the fashion of a wedding-ring,
And bids his comrades of the swarm
Crawl like a bracelet ’bout her arm.
Thus when the hovering publican
Had sucked the toll of all her span,        50
Tuning his draughts with drowsy hums
As Danes carouse by kettle-drums,
It was decreed, that poesie gleaned,
The small familiar 1 should be weaned.
At this the errant’s courage quails;        55
Yet aided by his native sails
The bold Columbus still designs
To find her undiscovered mines.
To the Indies of her arm he flies,
Fraught with east and western prize;        60
Which when he had in vain essayed,
Armed like a dapper lancepesade
With Spanish pike, he broached a pore
And so both made and healed the sore:
For as in gummy trees is found        65
A salve to issue at the wound,
Of this, her breach, the like was true;
Hence trickled out a balsam, too.
But oh, what wasp was it that could prove
Ravaillac 2 to my Queen of Love!        70
The king of bees, now jealous grown
Lest her beams should melt his throne,
And finding that his tribute slacks,
(His burgesses and state of wax
Turned to a hospital, the combs        75
Built rank and file like beadsmen’s rooms.
And what they bleed but tart and sour
Matched with my Danae’s golden shower,
Live honey all, the envious elf
Stung her ’cause sweeter than himself.        80
Sweetness and she are so allied
The bee committed parricide. 3
Note 1. The familiar: a spirit or god of the household among the heathens. [back]
Note 2. Ravaillac: assassin of Henry of Navarre. [back]
Note 3. Parricide: from parricidium, in the Ciceronian sense of treason, rebellion. (Berdan). [back]

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