1712
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nereides: Eclogue IX.

Nereides: or Sea-Eclogues.

Rev. William Diaper


Mira is once again the theme as Palaemon and Hippias reflect on the transitoriness of female beauty. Hippias, nonetheless, resolves to seize the day: "Since beauty fades, why should the Nymph be coy? | Snatch then with eager haste the fleeting joy. | In spite of wrinkled age, and eating Time, | Still shall I know that beauty once was mine. | When action's past, I'll on reflection live, | And the remembrance shall the bliss revive."

Bonamy Dobree: "He has plenty of good lines, his imagery never disappoints and is sometimes vivid: thus it would seem to have been the subject-matter that repelled his contemporaries. The sea was acknowledged to be a horrid and depressing element, and they were not prepared to believe that 'The Ocean has its Groves, and gloomy Shades, | And chrystal Springs below, and cooling Glades' nor be won by his surprisingly actual descriptions of the tides" English Literature in the Early Eighteenth Century (1959) 140.



PALAEMON, HIPPIAS.

PALAEMON.
The hollow winds blow hoarsely; as they fly,
They seem to plain, and every puff's a sigh.
Tears follow sighs, and now the rainy floods
In mournful streams descend from melting clouds.

HIPPIAS.
Too well I know, tears are provok'd by sighs;
Grief swells the heaving breast; then upward flies,
And bursting vents it self through weeping eyes.
When Mira frowns, I sudden showers divine,
The clouds are hers, but all the drops are mine.

PALAEMON.
See'st thou yon beauteous arch, that now adorns
And gilds the watry clouds, whose bending horns
Suck up th' admiring sea? How bright a show?
What lively colours paint the shining bow?
But ah! how soon its waning glories fail,
While envious mists, and dusky shades prevail?
Such beauty is, so flux, so quickly gone;
Mira will soon be scorn'd, and hardly known;
When with wan lips her eyes look faint, and dead,
And all the Cupids of her cheeks are fled.

HIPPIAS.
No kind amusement can my thoughts remove:
My soul is fix'd, and all the theme is Love.
Her rising cheeks set round with flowing hair,
Like the bright moon in dewy nights appear,
When circling haloes guard her from the sight
Of meaner stars, and shine with borrow'd light.
Her lips, that dear, soft, pouting juicy pair
(Whose breathings sweet as Eastern breezes are)
Invite to Love, and yet deny the bliss,
Kisses invite, but they refuse to kiss.

PALAEMON.
Ungrateful Love born of a beauteous face,
Its parent rudely kills, spoils ev'ry grace,
And sullies youthful bloom with a too kind embrace.
When once the nymph yields up her envy'd charms,
All to be rifled in the Triton's arms,
She grows unwieldy, and her cheeks look pale;
So flowers by handling fade, so all their colours fail.

HIPPIAS.
Since beauty fades, why should the Nymph be coy?
Snatch then with eager haste the fleeting joy.
In spite of wrinkled age, and eating Time,
Still shall I know that beauty once was mine.
When action's past, I'll on reflection live,
And the remembrance shall the bliss revive;
Such luscious food will ever leave a taste.
Fate cannot reach the pleasure that is past.

[Nichols, Select Collection (1780-84) 5:139-40]