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English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Andrew Marvell

253. The Picture of Little T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers

SEE with what simplicity

This nymph begins her golden days!

In the green grass she loves to lie,

And there with her fair aspect tames

The wilder flowers, and gives them names;

But only with the roses plays,

And them does tell

What colour best becomes them, and what smell.

Who can foretell for what high cause

This darling of the gods was born?

Yet this is she whose chaster laws

The wanton Love shall one day fear,

And, under her command severe,

See his bow broke and ensigns torn.

Happy who can

Appease this virtuous enemy of man!

O then let me in time compound

And parley with those conquering eyes,

Ere they have tried their force to wound;

Ere with their glancing wheels they drive

In triumph over hearts that strive,

And them that yield but more despise:

Let me be laid,

Where I may see the glories from some shade.

Meantime, whilst every verdant thing

Itself does at thy beauty charm,

Reform the errors of the Spring;

Make that the tulips may have share

Of sweetness, seeing they are fair,

And roses of their thorns disarm;

But most procure

That violets may a longer age endure.

But O, young beauty of the woods,

Whom Nature courts with fruits and flowers,

Gather the flowers, but spare the buds;

Lest Flora, angry at thy crime

To kill her infants in their prime,

Do quickly make th’ example yours;

And ere we see,

Nip in the blossom all our hopes and thee.