Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
To Armida
By Thomas Brown (1662–1704)
(From Works in Prose and Verse, 1730)

EASY to love, much easier to change,
Uncircumscribed my wanton passions range.
With sure success each fair enchanter sets,
Toils for my heart, and spreads her blooming nets;
The faithless wanton soon a freedom gains,        5
And from another feels repeated chains.
To every saint I most devoutly fall,
My superstitious love adores them all;
I swear by love, and by the pain he brings,
My soul’s inconstant as the wanton’s wings;        10
No lovely maid could ever fix my mind,
Or all my heart in love’s soft circles bind;
Too partial fate, to frame my soul for joys,
Which my uncertain temper soon destroys:
Whilst for each fair successively I burn,        15
My roving heart meets no sincere return.
Come then, great God of Love, and take my part,
And fix forever my inconstant heart;
Why will you see your faithful slave abused,
The pleasing pain of loving long refused?        20
Why must I make my solemn vows in vain?
I, who your empire did so well maintain?
I, who so far did love’s soft power extend,
And made the chaste before your altars bend?
Hear but this once with a propitious ear,        25
And by yourself, and Venus’ eyes, I swear,
A thousand offerings each returning day
My grateful heart shall most devoutly pay;
Hear me, Great God, and grant my last request,
Since no terrestrial maid can charm my breast;        30
Make one on purpose, and from every fair
Some beauty snatch, to make the charmer rare;
There to begin, whence love himself does rise,
Let her have Sylvia’s kind engaging eyes,
In which dear circles all incentives move        35
To cause, confirm, and entertain my love.
His surest net, their wanton Cupid lays,
And as he wounds, about her eye-balls plays.
Sometimes how soft and charming they appear!
Sometimes tyrannic, with a look severe,        40
They drive the worthiest lover to despair.
Wisdom and sense in vain her victims aid,
To break her chains, too strong her eyes persuade.
Armida’s neck with grateful motion turn,
Where purple streams in winding channels run;        45
Next place, Serena’s white enchanting breast,
On which imperial Jove himself might rest;
To melt the touch, those lovely hills arise,
And every motion does our sense surprise.
But oh! two snowy mounts, so near her heart,        50
Still keep it cold, and quench love’s hottest dart;
Between those hills a milky way there leads,
Not to the skies, or to the Elysian Meads;
But here’s a path to greater pleasures shown,
For which the Gods have oft forsook their own.        55
Happy’s the man enters this sacred grove,
And treads the mazes of mysterious love.
And next, great love, below this charming breast,
Lesbia’s engaging belly must be placed,
A cupola to the most awful shrine,        60
Whence comes your power, which mortals make divine.
This is the truest Heliconian spring,
By which inspired bards first learned to sing;
Venus her charms, Phœbus his silver bow,
Jove does his thunder to the poets owe.        65
The gods themselves by their assistance live,
Eternal fame their deathless pages give.
If more perfections you expect below,
Her legs and feet must bright Almeria show.
Gods! how she takes me with a vast surprise!        70
Oh love! how charming is thy paradise!
Next, over all, must Phryne’s skin be drawn
Lucid and clear as the first orient dawn,
Thro’ which most lovely and unfaithful screen
The various passions of the soul are seen;        75
And all the tumults of her virgin breast,
By fear, disdain, or softer love possest.
To Laura’s waist, let Lydia’s air invite,
A dear temptation to that straight delight:
From her Apelles might his pattern take;        80
From her alone a brighter Venus make:
Let her, like Chloe, tread an even pace,
And print, in every step she takes, a grace;
May she in measure like Clarinda move,
And sing as charming as the saints above.        85
Let Laura’s air in every act appear,
Raising desire, and yet commanding fear.
And next, great God, that she may nothing want,
Of all that I can ask or you can grant;
Let her, oh let her! Like dear Clarissa kiss;        90
Like her, transport me with surprising bliss.
Help me, ye powers of love, I faint, I die,
The thought screws nature to a pitch too high:
Scarcely my breast my fleeting soul retains,
And gusts of pleasure hurry through my veins.        95
One touch of hers——
More bliss contains than pampered prelates prove
In snatched embraces of forbidden love.
To my last prayer, propitious love, be kind,
And make the fair bewitching in her mind.        100
Good sense and wit in the same person joined,
Seldom our strictest inquisitions find;
Unite two stocks to form the witty she,
Dorinda’s sense, and Flavia’s repartee.
The wanton God smiled on his humble slave,        105
As when Adonis he his mother gave;
When straight heaven’s gates, by love’s supreme command,
Were open set; for what can love withstand?
Soft breezing Zephyrs bring the virgin down,
A gift divine that must my passion crown;        110
I threw myself devoutly at her feet,
Where all perfections, all the graces meet;
But by the God commanded to arise,
I saw Armida, to my vast surprise,
So rich in charms, and so divine her air,        115
The queen of love was scarce herself so fair;
With eager arms I clasped the lovely maid,
My humble thanks to mighty love I paid,
And as I wanted nothing else, for nothing prayed.

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