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The Fan : A Poem. Book I.



I sing that graceful toy, whose waving play,
With gentle gales relieves the sultry day.
Not the wide fan by Persian dames display'd,
Which o'er their beauty casts a grateful shade;
Nor that long known in China's artful land,
Which, while it cools the face, fatigues the hand;
Nor shall the muse in Asian climates rove,
To seek in Indostan some spicy grove,
Where stretch'd at ease the panting lady lies,
To shun the fervour of meridian skies,
While sweating slaves catch every breeze of air,
And with wide-spreading fans refresh the fair;
No busy gnats her pleasing dreams molest,
Inflame her cheek, or ravage o'er her breast,
But artificial zephyrs round her fly,
And mitigate the fever of the sky.

Nor shall Bermudas long the muse detain,
Whose fragrant forests bloom in Waller's strain,
Where breathing sweets from every field ascend,
And the wild woods with golden apples bend;
Yet let me in some odorous shade repose,
Whilst in my verse the fair Palmetto grows:
Like the tall pine it shoots its stately head,
From the broad top depending branches spread;
No knotty limbs the taper body bears,
Hung on each bough a single leaf appears,
Which shrivell'd in its infancy remains,
Like a clos'd fan, nor stretches wide its veins,
But as the seasons in their circle run,
Opes its ribb'd surface to the nearer sun;
Beneath this shade the weary peasant lies,
Plucks the broad leaf, and bids the breezes rise.
Stay, wandering muse, nor rove in foreign climes,
To thy own native shore confine thy rhymes.
Assist, ye Nine, your loftiest notes employ,
Say what celestial skill contriv'd the toy;
Say how this instrument of love began,
And in immortal strains display the fan.

Strephon had long confest his amorous pain,
Which gay Corinna rally'd with disdain;
Sometimes in broken words he sigh'd his care,
Look'd pale, and trembled when he view'd the fair;
With bolder freedoms now the youth advanc'd,
He dress'd, he laugh'd, he sung, he rhym'd, he danc'd:
Now call'd more powerful presents to his aid,
And, to seduce the mistress, brib'd the maid;
Smooth flattery in her softer hours apply'd,
The surest charm to bind the force of pride.
But still unmov'd remains the scornful dame,
Insults her captive, and derides his flame.
When Strephon saw his vows dispers'd in air,
He sought in solitude to lose his care:
Relief in solitude he sought in vain,
It serv'd, like music, but to feed his pain.
To Venus now the slighted boy complains,
And calls the goddess in these tender strains.

O potent queen, from Neptune's empire sprung,
Whose glorious birth admiring Nereids sung,
Who 'midst the fragrant plains of Cyprus rove,
Whose radiant presence gilds the Paphian grove,
And curling clouds of incense hide the skies;
O beauteous goddess, teach me how to move,
Inspire my tongue with eloquence of love,
If lost Adonis e'er thy bosom warm'd,
If e'er his eyes or godlike figure charm'd,
Think on those hours when first you felt the dart,
Think how you pin'd in absense of the swain:
By those uneasy minutes know my pain.
Even while Cydippe to Diana bows,
And at her shrine renews her virgin vows,
The lover, taught by thee, her pride o'ercame;
She reads his oaths, and feels an equal flame!
Oh, may my flame, like thine, Acontius prove,
May Venus dictate, and reward my love.
When crowds of suitors Atlanta try'd,
She wealth and beauty, wit and fame defy'd;
Each daring lover with advent'rous pace
Pursu'd his wishes in the dangerous race;
Like the swift hind, the bounding damsel flies,
Strains to the goal, the distanc'd lover dies.
Hippomenes, O Venus, was thy care,
You taught the swain to stay the flying fair,
Thy golden present caught the virgin's eyes,
She stoops; he rushes on, and gains the prize.
Say, Cyprian deity, what gift, what art,
Shall humble into love Corinna's heart,
If only some bright toy can charm her sight,
Teach me what present may suspend her flight.

Thus the desponding youth his flame declares.
The goddess with a nod his passion hears.

Far in Cytherea stands a spacious grove,
Sacred to Venus and the god of love;
Here the luxuriant myrtle rears her head,
Like the tall oak the fragrant branches spread;
Here nature all her sweets profusely pours,
And paints the enamell'd ground with various flowers;
Deep in the gloomy shade a grotto bends,
Wide thro' the craggy rock an arch extends,
The rugged stone is cloth'd with mantling vines,
And round the cave the creeping woodbine twines.

Here busy Cupids, with pernicious art,
Form the
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Gay

John Gay, a cousin of the poet John Gay, was an English philosopher, biblical scholar and Church of England clergyman. more…

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    "The Fan : A Poem. Book I." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 26 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/22781/the-fan-:-a-poem.--book-i.>.

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