1720
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Fair Circassian, a Dramatic Performance.

The Fair Circassian, a Dramatic Performance. Done from the original by a Gentleman-Commoner of Oxford.

Rev. Samuel Croxall


The Fair Circassian, the preface of this modestly lubricious poem misleadingly informs us, was composed by an Oxford tutor who had died the previous winter. However, Samuel Croxall, who had recently penned an "additional" canto of the Faerie Queene, and whose translation of Aesop's Fables would soon become a best-selling book, was in fact very much alive. Not seen.

Harko Gerrit De Maar: "His Fair Circassian, though written in couplets, is another paraphrase of the Canticles. It was no doubt influenced by Woodford's and perhaps by Aylet's poems. In The Fair Circassian Croxall turned the inconsistent blend of morality, religion and sensuous warmth favoured by his Spenserian predecessors into downright carnality, which gave its author an unpleasant notoriety" History of Modern English Romanticism (1924) 65.

An earlier version had appeared in Steele's Poetical Miscellanies (1714). The poem reached in eighth edition in 1765.



SHE.
O love! thy mighty Burnings who can bear!
What Thirst, what Fever can with mine compare!
With Speed conduct me to the lovely Swain
That fires my Soul and causes all my Pain;
'Tis only that dear Youth whose balmy Kiss
Can mitigate my Smart with healing Bliss.
O come, my Dearest, come, and hither bring
Thy Lips adorn'd with all the blooming Spring.
A Thousand Sweets their fragrant Atoms blend,
Which, in a Gale of Joy, thy Breath attend:
Such soothing Cordials to my Soul apply,
Heal me with Kisses, Love, or else I dy;
With poignant tasteful Kisses, such as thine,
Whose Flavour far excells the richest Wine.

At the dear Mention of thy charming Name,
The blushing Nymphs disclose their hidden Flame;
While Zephyrs bland the pleasing Accents bear,
Perfumes are wasted thro' the gentle Air;
The pow'rful Sound enchants the listning Grove,
And tender Damsels sicken into Love.

Where-e'er You go, where-e'er your Steps You move,
Thither I'm hurried on the Wings of Love;
His silken Cords my yielding Limbs enthrall,
And I must follow my Beloved's Call;
But, while such mighty Charms as his invite,
My Chains are Transport, and my Task Delight.

What wou'd my Prince, my lovely Tyrant have?
Oh! whither wou'dst Thou draw thy willing Slave?
I see, I see the golden Doors unfold,
The Royal Bed, with Raptures, I behold;
To Thee my Virgin Blushes I resign,
And, spite of inbred Modesty, I'm Thine.
Ecstatic Pleasure fills my gasping Soul,
As Wines, profusely pour'd, o'erflow the Bowl:
O stay, my flitting Senses, and record
The Bliss these momentary Joys afford;
Yes, to thy kind Endearments I'll be true,
And give thy wond'rous Love its Praises due.

Ye Tirzan Maids, whose Skins allure the Sight
With milky Fields of pure unblemish'd White,
My artless Beauties, tho' compar'd with You
They seem to fade and give a browner Hue,
Are Beauties still, and only look less fair,
Sun-burnt and tarnish'd with the Noontide Air.
I, of six Daughters was the latest born,
My Mother's Darling, but my Sisters' Scorn;
My opening Bloom with jealous Eyes they view'd,
And fell Revenge their envious Minds pursu'd;
Me lonely to the distant Hills they send,
Helpless my self, the Vineyards to defend:
Where Southern Blasts and Rays of scorching Heat
Did on my Face and tender Bosom beat.
Yet I, with Patience, in their Vineyards lay
Whole dewy Nights, and watch'd 'em all the Day:
Ah! Me; my own, but ill secur'd the while,
To bold rapacious Love became a Spoil.
Rudely He leapt the Mounds, the Fence destroy'd,
Nor ceas'd 'till with the budding Clusters cloy'd.

Tell me, my lovely Spoiler, thy Retreat;
I now forgive; for oh! the Theft was sweet.
If You, a Prince, will grace the shining Court,
Let Me, your Slave, among your Train resort:
Or if, in Shepherd's Weeds, you'll humbly deign
To feed your Flock along th' extended Plain;
Tell me beneath what cooly spreading Shade
At Noontide Hours thy lovely Limbs are laid;
Tell me, my Charmer, lest I chance to stray
Among the Shepherds' Tents, and lose my Way.

HE.
O Fairest of thy Sex! to hear thy Voice
The Shepherds and their Sheep alike rejoice;
Whose Bleatings from the Plain salute thine Ear,
And tell the Flocks and Cottages are near:
The little Path their cloven Feet have trod
Will bring Thee to thy longing Swain's Abode;
There may thy Kidlings browze the shrubby Green,
And We lie shelter'd in the leafy Scene.

How gracefully, my Love, thy Charms appear!
How unaffected all thy Motions are!
Like Art, thy very Negligences shine,
And Beauty moves in every Step of thine.
So tread the manag'd Steeds with comely Gait,
Harness'd to draw the gilded Coach of State,
Whose easy Shapes in just Proportion rise,
And gratify the pleas'd Spectator's Eyes.
Transparent Pendants, with a Brillant Light,
Adorn thy Cheeks and point 'em to the Sight:
The Chains that circle round thy Neck with Gold,
In stronger Links the fatal Gazer's hold.
Haste, haste, ye Nymphs, with curious Fingers ply
The Loom, and interweave the various Dye;
Let Flow'rs of Silver round the Border shine
Mixt with a running Train of golden Twine;
With These adorn my Fair, for vulgar Sight;
But me her native Charms alone delight.

SHE.
How my Perfumes, by close Embraces prest,
Fly out and hang upon my Charmer's Vest!
And, while He banquets at the royal Board,
To all around a fragrant Scent afford.
But, when in amorous Folds our Bosoms meet,
My Love himself is like rich Odours Sweet;
Grateful as Myrrh he dwells upon my Breast,
And sooths my panting Soul to downy Rest.

Who can thy manly Graces truly paint,
Or how describe, where all Description's faint!
Thy Charms the rest of Humankind surpass,
As loftier Vines excell the lowly Grass;
Or, as among the twisting Vines is seen
The cluster'd Camphire with superior Green.
Oh! how transcendently my Love is fair!
Beyond all Fancy and above Compare.
How languishing his Eyes! like cooing Doves
Emitting at each Glance their mutual Loves.

Behold, my Life, our dear expecting Bed
With Coverlets of lively Verdure spread:
Columns of Cedar, of the choicest Grain,
In Rows the silken Canopy sustain;
Of inlaid Firr the level Floor; above,
The vaulted Cieling glows with pictur'd Love.

[Canto 1 (1721) 1-7]