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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Of Love and Beauty

By John Adams (1704–1740)

[From Poems on Several Occasions. 1745.]

BUT now, the muse in softer measures flows,

And gayer scenes and fairer landskips shows;

The reign of fancy, when the sliding hours

Are passed with lovely Nymph in woven bowers;

Where coolly shades, and lawns forever green,

And streams, and warbling birds adorn the scene:

Where smiles, and graces, and the wanton train

Of Cytherea, crown the flowery plain.

What can their charms in equal numbers tell?

The glow of roses, and the lily pale;

The waving ringlets of their flowing hair,

Their snowy bosom, and their killing air;

Their sable brows in beauteous arches bent,

The darts which from their vivid eyes are sent,

And, fixing in our easy-wounded hearts,

Can never be removed by all our arts?

’Tis then with love, and love alone, possest,

Reason has fled, and passion claims our breast.

How many evils then will fancy form?

A frown will gather, and discharge a storm:

Her smile more soft and cooling breezes brings,

Than zephyrs fanning with their silken wings.

But tedious absence is the lover’s night,

And then what cruel shades oppress his sight!

Lingering, the moments tedious roll away,

And ages lengthen out the lonely day.

’Tis then our fancy paints the scenes of love,

And we in fields of our ideas rove:

Ten thousand times of former joys repeat,

To make them lasting as they once were great.

The shady picture mocks our hopes with air,

Nor fills them with the substance of the fair.